Christian Democrats mull betting u-turn
Published: 25 Apr 2011 08:35 GMT+02:00
Updated: 25 Apr 2011 08:35 GMT+02:00
In a clear change in policy direction, the party has decided it would consider bringing an end to the longstanding Swedish betting monopoly, according to the Sveriges Radio's Ekot news programme.
Foreign betting organisations like Ladbrokes, Unibet and others have fought for many years for the right to legally enter the Swedish market where Svenska Spel still enjoys a monopoly.
Until recently the official Christian Democrats have been staunch defenders of the tradition, arguing that it protects the individual from possible addiction. However they are now prepared to discuss changing the law, given that online gambling is now so easy and widespread.
“The most important thing for the Christian Democrats is the responsibility taken (by betting companies) for the gamblers, that they take some social responsibility. This can be lacking if you let in private operators to a market without control and who take no responsibility for those who bet with them,” said cultural policy spokesman Andreas Carlsson.
Another motivating factor would be money. If the monopoly were broken, the companies operating in the Swedish market would be forced to pay part of their income to the government, which would represent a potentially huge cash injection.
Although there are no official figures, it is thought that some some one million Swedes use foreign websites for betting, and spend several billion kronor in the process.