Christian Democrats back overhaul of Sweden’s restaurant casino sector

Sweden’s Christian Democrat (KD) Party has outlined its intentions to overhaul the rules and standards that govern Sweden’s restaurant casino sector. 

KD Minister Roland Utbullt has written an opinion piece on Altinget.se stating that Swedish gambling has a ‘glaring gap in its civic protections’ as restaurant casinos are exempt from duty-of-care rules.

Utbullt stated that it was unfathomable that Sweden’s 375 licensed restaurant casino venues were not mandated to carry out routine customer registration checks with Swedish gambling’s central player registry. 

The exemption that is only granted to restaurant casinos was marked as a blight on Sweden’s reformed gambling laws.  

“Swedish state casinos today have routines and rules whose purpose is to protect consumers and limit the harmful consequences of gambling,” Utbullt stated. “These goals are covered by what is called the duty of care that all licensees of games must live up to.

“The exception for restaurant casinos creates a large space for those who suffer from gambling addiction to relapse into their harmful habits.

 Utbullt detailed that he had notified Swedish Social Securities Minister Ardalan Shekarabi, who led the government’s review of gambling to close restaurant casinos’ duty of care exemption, but that no action had been taken.

He continued: “Shekarabi replied that the government would investigate this problem. Since then, no action has been taken regarding the games at restaurant casinos. Like a leak in a boat, gaps must be quickly closed.”

The KD’s call to overhaul restaurant casino standards is supported by Patrik Hofbauer, CEO and President of state-owned gambling operator Svenska Spel.

In a blog article written on Svenska Spel’s website, Hofbauer lambasted restaurant casinos as a ‘black hole for Swedish gambling’ and a threat to the integrity of the market in which venues could see customers lose SEK 1000 in one minute without requiring any form of intervention.

“We have one requirement and wish – do away with the exemption. Honest business can withstand scrutiny and equal rules of the game,” Hofbauer stated. “Remove the exemptions for complying with the law on care for gamblers and money laundering.”  

Swedish gambling reforms are being debated as ministers and parties prepare to contest a general election on 9 September.

June developments saw Sweden’s Moderate Party publish plans to split and sell-off Svenska Spel – stating that the “Swedish government should no longer have an active role in running a gambling company”.

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