Monday September 21,2015 : IS SWEDEN MOVING AT LAST ON THE LIBERALISATION OF INTERNET GAMBLING?
Minister has published a timetable to 2018.
Despite repeated warnings from the European Commission and a referral to the European Court of Justice for non-compliance, Sweden has been dragging its feet on a more liberal online gambling regime for years, but reports this week suggest that Minister of Public Administration, Ardalan Shekarabi may at last be taking tentative steps toward that goal.
The state-owned company Svenska Spel has held a virtual monopoly on internet gambling in Sweden for the past ten years, yet still regularly complains that unlicensed operators are providing serious competition that is costing it revenues and very significant market share, and efforts to exclude foreign competition appear to have been generally ineffective.
Now it appears that Minister Shekarabi is taking belated but nevertheless welcome action to align his country's online gambling business with the realities of the international market, at the same time bringing Sweden into compliance with EU laws. He has set a timetable for new online gambling regulations which will (hopefully) result in:
– A review by the autumn of this (2015) year
– Recommendations from the review by the 2016-2017 winter
– Consultation with interested parties from Spring 2017
– Initial drafting and submission to the Council on Legislation and EU notifications by autumn 2017
– A government proposal to parliament by the end of 2017.
– Possible implementation sometime in 2018.
Whilst he welcomed movement by the government, Gustav Hoffstedt who heads up the Swedish Association of Online Gambling Operators has been scathing in his criticism of the government, claiming that:
"Sweden’s gambling legalization has traditionally been and still is very disconnected from the realities and demands of the market."
With the danger of political preoccupation with a general election in Sweden in 2018, there could be hurdles and delays as yet unforeseen, but at least there are signs of an intention to progress the issue.