Svenska Spel Could Face Sale If Opposition Party Wins Sweden’s Elections

A Swedish political party with its eye on controlling the government feels that privatizing Svenska Spel is a smart move. If it wins the country’s elections this September, one of its first orders of business may be to sell the state-owned gaming company.

A Svenska Spel outside a Swedish gaming venue. The state-led gaming operator could see changes if a certain political party takes control of the government. (Image: Shutterstock)

The Moderaterna Party submitted a provisional mandate for the sale and division of the company to Sweden’s Riksdag national legislature. This is part of its plan to overhaul Sweden’s gambling laws under the 2019 Gambling Act.

The political party wants to make other changes as well. Notably, it wants to prevent the government from amending gambling laws without approval from lawmakers. This change, it hopes, would come through an amendment to Sweden’s Constitution, making it permanent.

Quelling Abuse of Power

Svenska Spel would be divided into two companies. The first would be for “monopoly gaming,” which includes lottery and keno. The other would cover “competitive gaming,” including sports betting.

Whether a political soapbox or a legitimate concern, the Moderaterna Party feels there was “abuse of power during the past term of office.” The changes it requests would help reverse that abuse.

In addition, the party would also remove Sweden’s bonus restrictions and undo the government’s recent decision that gambling marketing be subject to “adjusted moderation.” It believes this is an attempt to introduce risk classification through a “back door.”

The party asserts that there is a danger of further erosion of the regulated market. This is the only outcome if operators who have paid Swedish tax and redeemed a license do not have the chance to market their products in a greater manner.

[We] believe it is too early to implement changes in the field of marketing, as a practice has just been established, which with the government’s proposal would no longer be valid,” the Moderaterna Party said.

This is in spite of the government backing off a restrictive marketing initiative. New legislation a month ago indicated the arrival of a ban on the promotion and advertising of illegal gambling platforms. However, it did not include a ban on televised marketing of legal gambling or sports betting solutions.

The Moderaterna Party, through a four-party, right-wing alliance it created, is currently leading in the polls. It is ahead of Social Democrat Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson by a slim margin.But this could change in the runup to the September elections.

Gaming Community Supports Idea

Branschforeningen for Onlinespel (BOS, for its Swedish acronym), an online gambling operator association, welcomed the announcement. It said in a statement that it was inappropriate for the state to manage commercial gambling operations.

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 privatize the competitive part of state operator Svenska Spel, if they form or support a new government after the September general elections in Sweden,” said Gustaf Hoffsted, Secretary General of BOS.

Sweden is currently working on a gambling reform bill. It includes mandatory licensing for B2B software providers. Any supplier who provides services to Swedish gaming operators would have to hold the license. The application fee would be SEK120,000 (US$12,036) and the license would remain in effect for five years.

In addition, licensees need to have a headquarters within the European Economic Area, or open an office in Sweden. The government proposed this measure to reduce illegal gambling.

Svenska Spel has not commented on the Moderaterna Party’s plan.

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