Svenska Spel’s future as a Swedish state-owned enterprise must be settled in 2023, according to Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS), Sweden’s online gambling trade association.
BOS Secretary General, Gustaf Hoffstedt, issued the demand by writing an op-ed on Dagens Nyheter, Sweden’s largest newspaper. Hoffstedt maintains BOS stance that Svenska Spel holds no remit to participate in commercial gambling (sports betting and online casino).
The trade body underlined that in 2023, Sweden’s new government should settle Swedish gambling’s regulatory makeup that requires a “fundamental distinction between being the legislator and rule setter”.
Since 2019, Sweden has maintained a fragmented licensing system for gambling due to the rights granted to Svenska Spel, allowed to operate in both commercial and monopoly (lotteries/keno) markets.
“Svenska Spel, the state is active in both of these markets, but now the time has come to divest Svenska Spel Sport & Casino, – the unit of the company that is active in the commercial, competitive gambling,” Hoffstedt outlined.
The presence of Svenska Spel is deemed an infringement on commercial gambling, as 70 licensed operators fight for “market share, in the part of gambling open for competition” against a state-owned monopoly.
BOS reaffirmed that the Swedish government could no longer justify the presence of Svenska Spel in commercial gambling unless “the market itself has failed, above all in terms of competition”.
“No one who has followed developments in the Swedish gambling market can claim that there is too little competition between the 70 companies that operate in competitive gambling. Competition is fierce and would remain so even in the absence of the state as a commercial casino operator and bookmaker in betting.”
Svenska Spel’s presence is detrimental to Sweden’s safer gambling objectives, as licensed operators spend more money on advertising campaigns to compete against a privileged monopoly.
The trade body pointed to a 2017 ‘government evaluation’ which detailed no distinction between Svenska Spel and private business as “Svenska Spel Sport & Casino has the same license as other gambling companies”
“They follow exactly the same responsible gambling regulations, and they do it no better or worse than their competitors. They pay exactly the same gambling tax as all other gambling companies”.
Despite reforming Sweden’s gambling laws, no government has questioned Svenska Spel’s encompassing presence in the market.
Ahead of 2023, Hoffstedt warned that Sweden’s new centre-right coalition government could not ignore calls to break-up Svenska Spel – a mandate which Swedish Moderates and Democrats favour.
“Now that time is over and we have a new government, which together with the Sweden Democrats forms a majority in the Riksdag,” Hoffstedt concluded.
“The moderates have long advocated a divestment of Svenska Spel Sport & Casino, as have the Sweden Democrats. The voters who have given the centre-right parties the power to rule Sweden have very reasonable expectations that the government will now move from words to action.”