Swedish media were speculating this week on the liklihood of a clash between Betsson and the state gambling monopoly Svenske Spel following news that the former is about to open its first land-based outlet in the Swedish capital Stockholm.
The aim of Betsson's new venture is to build closer relations with players and offer more gaming opportunities and greater freedom of gambling choice to Swedes, who will be offered attractive alternatives with better odds, and the freedom to bet on sports games and live games, get tips from experts, see live matches on TV and socialise with other sports enthusiasts in a relaxing environment.
"We are taking this opportunity to challenge the Swedish gaming monopoly as we see betting shops as an interesting development of our business. Betting shops complement our online offering and our aim is to create more freedom of choice for our players," the CEO of Betsson, Pontus Lindwall told The.Local.se newspaper.
The Swedish newspaper opined that the launch of land gambling by Betsson is being actioned with the express purpose of challenging the Swedish gaming monopoly, and hinted that a confrontation is possible, quoting the Swedish Gaming Board's top legal representative Johan Röhr, who promised that one of the agency’s inspectors will pay a visit when the new shop opens on May 30.
Lindwall appears ready for a clash, saying: "The European Court of Justice gives us support for this venture. There is no longer a reason for us to wait for a political process which is barely moving forward. We want to drive the development of the gaming market forward for the benefit of players. I’m convinced that the monopoly’s gaming outlets are in for some tough competition ahead."
Röhr disagrees, commenting to the TT News Agency: “Nothing has happened [on the legal scene] and this is a judgment Betsson has made completely on its own. We will send an inspector and see what it is they’ve put up. Then we’ll see what we will do.” But he added: “We can’t do terribly much ourselves. We’ll see if we file a report with the police and we can also order them to cease operations or face fines."
Lindwall is adamant that right is on his company's side, and the authorities need to reconsider their position, however. “I believe that there are risks for the authorities if they don’t allow this. Our judgment of the legal framework is that we can have this store and if they try to stop us on erroneous grounds, we’re going to ask for compensation at a later time,” he said.
Finanznachtrichten reports that the Betsson outlet will mark the first high street betting shop to be opened and operated by a private operator in Sweden.
Sweden has been under pressure from the European Commission to address the legal issues surrounding its gambling monopoly, and recent news (see previous InfoPowa report) was that the government was considering its options, including a part-privatising of Svenske Spel.
Betsson has previously applied to the Swedish government for a licence to operate a full betting shop in Stockholm, but was denied such a licence.
Betsson's new betting shop is located at Gotgatan 37 in Stockholm and will open on May 30, 2008, at 12:00 noon.
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