Is this the end for Swedish state monopoly ?

Sweden's state-owned Svenska Spel gambling monopoly may find itself at the centre of some dramatic policy changes if the authorities accept the recommendations of a public commission appointed to study and report back on the subject.

Stockholm News reports that the commission has recommended that the monopoly be disbanded, at least partly. The news will be welcomed by European Commission officials, who have been warning the Swedish government for some time that its monopoly flies in the face of European Union principles of free and fair movement of goods and services between member nations.

Svenska Spel has in the past been an aggressive defender of its privileged position against local media accepting competitive gambling advertising, and against Internet companies from other EU nations seeking to offer their betting facilities to Swedish residents.

The commission has proposed that companies other than Svenska Spel should also have the right to offer sports betting in Sweden. The monopoly should remain in place in respect of poker and casino gambling, the commissioners suggested, because these are thought to be more dangerous for problem gamblers.

The recommendations emphasise that foreign Internet betting sites wishing to enter the Swedish market should be made comply with Swedish regulations and operate in a professional manner. Those that do not should be regarded as illegal and face action by the autholrities.

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