Last Friday's opening in Stockholm of the Betsson online gambling group's first land betting shop in Sweden went as planned, generating significant local media interest in its challenge to the Swedish government's monopoly.
It wasn't long before the government's lottery inspectors filed a police complaint, alleging that Betsson had infringed article 38 in the the Swedish lottery laws, although it is not immediately apparent what concrete action against the gambling firm is contemplated.
In a company statement, Betsson additionally claims that lottery officials are threatening the company with an unspecified fine.
Ironically, the management at Betsson consulted with the lottery inspectorate prior to opening the doors of its new Stockholm premises…and the officials concurred that there were arguable provisions in the Swedish law that might conflict with European Union requirements, according to Betsson CEO Pontus Lindwall.
“At the meeting the Lottery Inspection agreed with us that some parts of the Lottery Act are dubious and may not comply with EC law," recalls Lindwall this week. "I am therefore very surprised of the actions taken by the Inspection the last couple of days. An authority should not take actions on a weak basis, which can hurt a particular company,” he said.
If Betsson is hurt by official action that proves to be flawed, it could prove an expensive business for the government. Lindwall indicated before the Stockholm betting shop commenced operations that faulty official action that hurt his company in any way would be met by litigation and serious claims for damages.
This week Lindwall remained defiant, asserting that his company would keep the betting shop open despite the Swedish authorities, and was prepared to contest the legality of its actions under European Union law.
”Given the current legal position, the Lottery Inspection's actions are perilous," the determined online gambling executive said. "If these actions harm Betsson in any way, we will demand damages. We are convinced that the gaming monopoly will be declared illegal by EC court.”
Betsson has consistently claimed that it has the right to provide gambling services to European Union member states, as empowered by the EU Treaty, which overrides local monopolistic legalization.
Company spokesmen this week confirmed that the launch went well, and the facilities offered had been well received by the new shop's many visitors.