British betting giant Ladbrokes had been challenging the Swedish gaming monopoly, whereby the only companies allowed to offer gambling services are state-owned Svenska Spel and ATG.
The government had argued that the monopoly was legal because the profits were used for the common good. This argument was harshly criticised by the court, but the government still won the day.
The court ruled that EU law allowed countries to regulate the gaming industry for the purpose of protecting players and maintaining social order. The company does not have the right to appeal the ruling, although the company said it plans to complain to the European Commission.
Douglas Roos, Ladbrokes’ Nordic CEO, told Svenska Dagbladet that he had hoped to break “a monopoly that everyone knows is just about money”.
Roos described the ruling as “embarrassing”, and said the judgement was “made to order for the government.”
“The judges are totally lacking in integrity,” said Roos.
Although a setback for Ladbrokes, the judgement does not spell the end of Ladbrokes’ activity in Sweden. The company runs a Swedish gambling website from Britain, which is therefore regulated by English rather than Swedish law and is taxed by the British authorities.
Front page photo: Vismedia