Industry observers were today still assessing Swedish media speculative reports on Thursday that the Swedish government gambling monopoly Svenske Spel may be about to sell off [privatise] certain assets.
Reports in publications such as The Local.se suggested that the Swedes are open to selling off parts of the gaming monopoly. The criteria suggested would be those games that could be considered less likely to lead to gambling addiction, and it is claimed that the government’s gaming commission has been tasked with deciding on what conditions should govern such sales.
The Local.se advises readers that the commission is already engaged in the modernisation of Swedish gambling regulations.
Finance Minister Anders Borg added to the speculation by explaining in the Göteborgs-Posten (GP) newspaper that the question is whether Svenska Spel should continue to operate less harmful forms of gaming, or if those games should devolve to other commercial entities, presumably at a price. Protection for gamblers, the social implications and responsible gambling considerations will be paramount in the Commission's recommendations.
Some industry experts, such as Unibet's Petter Nylander, have opined that the move may be a strategy by the Swedes to avoid being hauled before the European Court of Justice after years of warnings by the European Commission regarding the conflict between state monopolistic policies and the European Union imperative for the free passage of godds and services between EU member nations.
Commenting that EC pressure was beginning to have an effect, Nylander said: “The legal advice to the Swedish Ministry of Finance is that the country is very close to breaking EU rules on the provision of cross-border services…. and is getting closer to being asked to appear in front of the European Court of Justice."
Discussing the decisions facing the Swedish gambling commission, Petter explained that low risk games under consideration for sell-off were believed to have originally included lottery games, but that it now appeared that sports betting and poker may be included too. "However, the commission has not yet truly defined what they consider to be harmful or not,” he added.
The latest developments in Swedish gambling follow a report published in early May (see previous InfoPowa report) by the Moderate Party’s Culture Committee that said the Svenska Spel monopoly should be abolished. A licensing system for online operators would raise enough revenue to make up for any loss of income brought on by the end of the monopoly, the report asserted.
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