Swedish opposition proposes sale of Svenska Spel

Sweden will hold a general election on September 9.
Sweden will hold a general election on September 9.

The Moderata Party says it will divide and sell off the state-owned gambling operator if it wins the general election in September

Sweden.- The right-of-centre Moderata Party plans to sell off Sweden’s state-controlled gambling operator Svenska Spel if it wins the country’s general election in September. It has submitted a provisional mandate to Sweden’s national legislature, the Riksdag, proposing the division and sale of the company.

The party, which has formed a four-party right-wing alliance to contest the elections on September 9, announced the move as part of its plans to overhaul Sweden’s gambling legislation, currently governed by the 2019 Gambling Act. Other changes would include constitutional provisions to require the government to obtain approval from the legislature to change gambling laws in the future “due to abuse of power during the past term of office”.  

The party would also scrap Sweden’s restrictions on bonuses and would undo the current government’s recent decision to subject gambling marketing to “adjusted moderation”, which it believes is an attempt to introduce risk classification “via the back door”.

It said that “there is a risk of further eroding the regulated market if operators who have redeemed a licence pay Swedish tax and maintain a high level of consumer protection do not have the opportunity to market their products to a greater extent. 

“In addition, we believe it is too early to implement changes in the field of marketing as practice has just been established, which with the government’s proposal would no longer be valid.”

Plans for Svenska Spel

As for Svenska Spel, the mandate would divide it into separate companies for “monopoly gaming” (lottery and keno) on the one hand and “competitive gaming” (including sports betting) on the other.

The alliance, which is the main opposition to Social Democrat prime minister Magdalena Andersson, currently has a narrow lead in polls.

The online gaming operator association Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS) welcomed the announcement, saying that it was not appropriate for the state to run a commercial gambling business.

Secretary general Gustaf Hoffsted said: “With this statement from the Moderaterna party I welcome the fact that the two largest parties in opposition have now made clear their intention to privatise the competitive part of state operator Svenska Spel, if they form or support a new government after the September general elections in Sweden.”

The current government’s recent gambling reform bill includes the introduction of mandatory licences for B2B gaming software providers. Suppliers who offer services to gaming operators in Sweden would need a licence, which would have an application fee of SEK120,000 (€11,170) and remain valid for up to five years.

Licensees must have a headquarters in the European Economic Area or open an office in Sweden. The government said this measure would help reduce unlicensed gambling.

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