Swedish Gambling Monopoly and Local Media Clash

04/08/2016
By Pamela PattersonGoogle
Within the country’s borders there has been controversy over the Svenska Spel’s monopoly on domestic gambling rights and the fact that local media companies have been accepting advertising slots for international rivals to Svenska Spel’s Swedish government’s controlled gambling industry.
 
Now the rivalry between the two has reached boiling point as the European Commission stepped in to also voice its opinion that basically condemns Sweden’s stance on its current gambling policies. The EC has said that presently the way the Swedish policies have been set out are not systematic neither are they consistent. Sweden were given two months to come back with a response to the EC’s comments.
 
A Swedish newspaper, Tidningsutvivarna, actually went fourth and made an official complaint to the EC regarding the way that Svenska Spel have been able to run a monopoly on the Swedish gambling rights sparking the possibility of intervention from the European Court of Justice to put an end to what is clearly unfair practice.
 

 
Svenska Spel have of course responded publicly through Anitra Steen, who is currently the acting chairperson for the government authority. She wrote on Di’s ‘DI Debate’ forum, which is another Swedish newspaper, that the European laws state that those with the power to do so, those being Svenska Spel, have been giving favourable ruling to restrict access to their domestic gambling market. This was in fact a law passed by the European Court of Justice, and although there are those that may disagree with it, Svenska Spel can operate its monopoly. She also claimed that Tidningsutvivarna party will soon be over.
 
Tidningsutvivarna’s president, who is the infamous Per Hultgård, made a counter claim stating that the law was passed to protect the industry in order to reduce the negative effects of gambling. Instead, he claims, that Svenska Spel are using the law to create a non-competitive marketplace in order to ensure the government can make a profit from gambling. He also pointed out that since 2006 Svenska Spel has increased its budget by fifty percent contradicting government claims that the monopoly was in place to ensure the Swedish gambling industry is kept low key without sparking a gambling craze in the country.
 
Finally, Hultgård has said it will be the government’s party that will be over because they have acted with indignity by censoring constitutional rights that have been set to guarantee commercial speech. Whatever may be the argument, it does seem a little harsh that the Swedish government are acting against the concept of free trade by allowing a monopoly to operate in such a way inside the country and so hence the European Commission’s public comments.
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