Sweden considers to end gambling monopoly

The days of state-monopolised online sportsbetting in Sweden could be numbered, according to reports in the Swedish media this week which indicate that a commission of enquiry will propose a licensing system open to foreign companies by the end of the year.

Thought to be prompted by increasing pressure to liberalise its gaming market from the European Commission, and the threat of being taken before the European Court of Justice, Sweden recently appointed a commission of enquiry on gambling [Spelutredningen] which confirmed this week that it is to propose to government that a regulatory and licensing syustem open to foreign companies should be introduced.

The proposal will cover only sportsbetting, as the commission believes that casino and slot games present more risk of problem gambling, while no decision had yet been taken regarding online poker and other gaming products.

Peter Alling, one of the secretaries of the inquiry commission, commented: "Sports betting licensing will be proposed to the government and gaming (poker and other games) remains open to further investigation. We haven't decided on what the tax rate will be - whether it will be on total turnover or on gross gaming revenues."

Alling added that the commission's duty was to find a system that allowed operators to work in a well-balanced environment. "The task given to the inquiry is to create a legislation that will stand in the long run, but of course, with the constantly-changing system, such a consistent system must have a built-in flexibility. So there will be a system, but it will have the possibility to change should it need to," he said.

Praising the cooperative attitude of private gambling operators with whom the commission has liaised, Alling said he was confident the commission would come up with a proposal that would work for all parties. "They [private operators] have been very collaborative, we have met many of them over the past year and they have been very helpful in setting out their vision for the future of the market and what their needs are. We have learnt a great deal from them and the input has been very constructive on both sides," he said.

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