Sweden to follow UK and Italy?

The ruling party in Sweden has decided to end their support for the government’s online gambling monopoly. At a party conference in Gavle over the weekend, the ruling Moderate party voted to de-monopolize the country’s gambling industry and to privatize Svenska Spel, the country’s government-owned gaming company.

Up until now, the official Moderate party line has ruled out privatization of the gambling industry in the European Union nation, but after convincing arguments from Tomas Tobe MP, it appears that the Scandinavian nation will follow European Commission directives to allow the free movement of EU services within their borders.

Tomas Tobe MP, told delegates Sweden must abolish the current monopoly and join England and Italy in regulation of the industry instead through a licensing system. To counter balance a possible increase in gambling, Tobe said funds should be allocated to problem gambling research and establishing risk-minimization controls.

“By December 2008, an in-depth report on the gambling market will be released following an investigation by Jan Nyrén, legal counsel of the police authority, but the party congress did not want to wait for this and voted for change to take place more rapidly”, Tomas Tobe MP said.

Svenska Spel generated over 500 million Euros in profits last year and if publicly listed as expected, the company could be valued at almost 7 billion Euros. Svenska Spel’s profits are largely attributable to a lack of competition. Svenska Spel currently owns and operates the only five operational casinos in Sweden.

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