It looks like the days of Svenska Spel, the Swedish gambling monopoly, are numbered. In the past, all efforts to re-regulate the traditional and online Swedish gaming markets were staunchly opposed by the liberal Christian Democrats (Kristdemokraterna/KD) political party.
KD, with an ideology founded on social-conservatism, believed that without a government controlled monopoly, gambling addiction would overwhelm the Scandinavian country.
The 180-degree reversal in policy was the result of recently published statistics from the Research Institute of Industrial Economics. The report indicates that millions of residents are gambling at foreign and Swedish online casinos and forecasts a steady rise in the overall number of online gamblers.
Twenty six percent of Swedish gamblers prefer playing online over traditional casinos. Over one million are gambling at unlicensed foreign based online casinos in Sweden.
The wide spread and popularity of online gaming options offered in the Swedish language (with some online poker rooms allowing placing bets using the Swedish Krona) was only partially responsible for the policy change.
The Christian Democrats are disenchanted with Svenska Spel, which in their view became just another for-profit conglomerate that “wasted hundreds of millions on marketing, sent billions to the exchequer (revenue collection), but only left crumbs on the curb for gambling addiction treatment.” Online Swedish poker rooms are in a perpetual decline, unable to compete with foreign internationally renowned poker rooms.
Andreas Carlsson, KD spokesperson, declared during the Easter weekend that the KD party would shortly discuss the best way to open up the market to licensed foreign competition.
A parliamentary majority between the four main political parties is required to rewrite Swedish gambling laws and begin licensing and regulating the online gambling market. There is no guarantee that the independent thinking party members of all four parties will fall in line and support Svenska Spel’s demise.
“Christian Democrats believe that (online casinos) must take social responsibility for the gamblers who use their services. This will never happen if private operators enter a market that’s not regulated and licensed as is currently the case in Sweden,” stated the KD spokesperson.