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POLITICIANS LIKEN SWEDEN'S GAMBLING MARKET TO THE WILD WEST
Wednesday August 31,2011 : Sweden's political parties hot up the debate on market liberalization and re-regulation
While online gaming in Sweden is restricted to state monopoly Svenska Spel, which offers lotteries, casino games, bingo, poker and sports and horse wagering via both internet and mobile channels, the country’s politicians have again voiced their opinions on liberalization of the market that would see it include foreign operators amongst other proposals.
Sweden’s Social Democrat MP, Peter Johnsson, has spoken out on reforming and re-regulating Sweden's gambling market at the Svenska Spel-sponsored Spel Akademin gaming conference held in Visby, Sweden.
“We have a market that is regulated but that does not work,” said Johnsson, “We must put our foot down, we want a market that incorporates the other companies that are perceived as illegal in today's market.”
Timed to coincide with the conference address, Swedish newspaper Expressen carried an open letter on the subject written by Social Democrat MP's Tommy Waidelich and Berit Högman whose proposal on re-regulation of a system that they say "was created when gambling meant little more than buying occasional lottery tickets or a raffle in a public park".
The Social Democrats latest proposal towards reform includes:
- A licencing system to be made available to foreign operators who would be taxed on their profits and would fall under Swedish supervision and requirements.
- Stop unlicenced operators by instituting an effective advertising ban instead of blocking websites and prohibiting banking transactions. Expressen.se said unlicenced foreign gaming operators pay upwards of half a billion dollars on advertising in Swedish publications and internet sites that target Swedish citizens.
- All eligible operators be given the opportunity to enter the gambling market.
- State-owned gambling be permitted to compete in foreign markets.
- Operators to be taxed at a similar level to other European countries.
- Payments to players to be regulated by the State.
- A Gambling Authority developed with adequate resources to coordinate permits, inspections and problem gambling initiatives. Said Authority would determine permissible games and conditions for any form of gambling as well as conduct effective games supervision with the backing of the State's courts and have a mandate to withdraw licences and effect penalties.
- Clearer requirements for gambling operators' responsibilities e.g. age verification and limits.
- A problem/responsible gambling programme funded by the gaming industry.
Long-time state-run monopoly Svenska Spel delivered 4.7 billion to the Treasury in 2010 and the Social Democrats believe that a licensing system incorporating foreign operators could bring at least the same in tax revenues and more in the form of taxes on winnings to the State's coffers.
In April 2011, TheLocal.se reported that “although there are no official figures, it is thought that some one million Swedes use foreign websites for betting, and spend several billion kronor in the process."
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