Profitable Advertising of 'Illegal' Online Gambling in Sweden

The Swedish Supreme Court has acquitted editors of Aftonbladet and Expressen newspapers who were prosecuted for promoting foreign gambling operators, therefore violating the Swedish Lotteries Act. Moreover, the case went to the European Court of Justice achieving heavy media coverage before the editors were cleared of the charges.

The Swedish Gaming Board found the ruling disputable and in collision with its enforcement plans. The board had even instigated prosecutions against ten media executives, but despite this the sector continued to take adverts.

As the Board legal representative Håkan Hallstedt said: "It hardly feels worthwhile continuing to report cases when very little happens."

The upheaval in 2006 earned media owners almost SKR 700 million, up by over SKR 250 million from 2005, and the likelihood is that the numbers of the lucrative business this year will be higher.

Whilst the Board has been successful in securing convictions in lower courts, these have been appealed and went under consideration by the Supreme Court, which appears to be inconsistent - it acquitted the Aftonbladet and Expressen editors, but in the case against the editor-in-chief of Nerikes Allehanda, rejected an application for a second appeal and allowed the Appeal Court's guilty verdict to stand.

The local income situation was worsened when the country's state gambling monopoly, Svenska Spel, last year invested SEK 277 million in marketing, substantially less than 2004's budget of more than SEK 350 million, in order to protect the consumers and maintain its monopolistic credibility.

However, Sweden's courts stay still on the gambling issue waiting to see whether, and how, the state will react to international firms targeting Swedish gamblers. Not to mention that the European Commission is threatening to haul Sweden before the European Court of Justice over its legislation.

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