The Swedish gambling board has closed down two illegal internet gambling operations in the town of Sundsvall. Located in western Sweden along the shores of the Gulf of Bothnia, Sundsvall is a university town that has been around since the early 1600s.
Two illegal gambling houses were recently discovered operating out of Sundsvall, offering unlicensed internet gambling in Sweden. During a routine inspection on 28 November, inspectors found two gambling machines in a shop and a restaurant in the center of the town. The games, called Bomben (The Bomb) and Fun Games, were found to be connected via an internet server. Because the games were unlicensed, they are considered illegal.
David Lothigius, a lawyer for the Swedish Gambling Board, believes that players may not have known the games were illegal, but is certain that the proprietors were aware of the legal status of the games. The owners, however, are not giving up. They believe the laws surrounding such machines are open to interpretation, and they intend to bring their case before the Court of Appeals in the spring.
Swedish gambling laws clearly state that all internet gambling in the country is the exclusive right of Svenska Spel, the state gambling monopoly. Svenska Spel has been the sole gambling proprietor in the country since 1997. This gambling monopoly has long been the source of friction between the EU and Swedish authorities. EU officials insist that the monopoly is anti-competitive, while Swedish authorities defend its ability to keep the nation’s gambling habits in check.
Pressure on Svenska Spel is slowly mounting, and the future could see the monopoly dismantled. A recent court case brought a small victory for foreign online sportsbooks operating in Sweden when the judge ruled that foreign operators can advertise their odds in Swedish newspapers. This is but a small step towards the liberation of the nation’s gambling industry, but every step counts.