European Gaming Lawyer magazine EGL_Spring2017_opt - Page 20

The Re-Regulation Of The Swedish Gambling Monopoly by Dr. Ola Wiklund T he Present Market One of the most prevailing Swedish myths is that the public Swedish gambling monopoly is designed to limit gambling and thereby prevent detrimental public health eff ects. Nowadays, there is an overwhelming consensus that, during the last 20 years or so, there has never been a true public ambition to limit gambling. Back in the days, the marketing budget of the state-controlled gaming services off ered by Svenska Spel and ATG reached new heights every year and the range of products off ered grew broader and broader. Th is market strategy still prevails. Th e Government policy came to create a culture of gambling. Th is culture together with a world class level of internet penetration (well over 90 percent), a fl ourishing climate for tech innovations, access to venture capital and a lenient stock market, were to set strong incentives for the establishment of highly successful private gambling operators such as Betsson, Unibet and many others, all established abroad targeting Swedish customers. Th ese companies are founded, run and owned by Swedish privates and corporations. Today, Sweden is one of the most competitive online gambling markets in the world. Gambling companies licensed or authorized elsewhere within the EU can more or less freely pursue an Internet-based gambling business on the Swedish market. Swedish authorities acknowledge that Swedish residents are unimpeded to participate in foreign gambling and that online gambling operators duly licensed or authorized in another EU member state are allowed to off er such services. 20 | European Gaming Lawyer | Spring Issue | 2017 Moreover, the Swedish Government has expressed that the Lotteries Act does not have exterritorial application. Hence, Swedish authorities lack jurisdiction to enforce the Lotteries Act to undertakings and individuals outside of Sweden. Gambling services can consequently be off ered cross border to Swedish customers without violating Swedish law. Also, the room for maneuver for marketing and promoting activities that target the Swedish market is extensive. Marketing through cross border-media such as television commercials and web marketing is legal. Given the inherent limitations of the system for administrative and criminal sanctions, sponsoring of sports events and other commercial marketing co-operations could be carried out without risk of sanctions, if structured properly. Th e only remains of the public monopoly is the marginalized and circumvented marketing prohibition. Hence, globalization, market practice, internet penetration and political passivity have made the current legal regime obsolete and created a fairly liberal market for online gaming in Sweden. However, this situation might be over. For the third time the Swedish government have taken the initiative to regulate the market. Introduction Of Licenses For the fi rst time in 20 years there seems to be a broad political consensus to regulate the market by introducing a licensing system for predominantly online gaming. Th e Inquiry on the Re-regulation of the Swedish gaming market (SOU 2017:30) published its comprehensive report on March 31.