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POKER

Ladbrokes to challenge Swedish betting monopoly

British bookmaker Ladbrokes PLC is applying for a licence to operate its online poker service in Sweden as it looks to challenge a government monopoly on betting.

Ladbrokes said its application follows the Swedish government’s January decision to issue an online poker licence to state-run betting monopoly Svenska Spel without any competitive process.

The company said it has given an undertaking to abide by all social commitments required under Svenska Spel’s licence.

Under EU law, countries may use social reasons to prevent competition, but otherwise have to uphold free and fair competition.

“We hope the Swedish government refer to European law when considering our application… If our application is rejected, we will consider legal action,” Ladbrokes eGaming managing director John O’Reilly said.

A similar application in Norway has seen that country’s betting laws referred to the European Free Trade Area court in Luxembourg.

Ladbrokes’ move comes just three days after a German court declared its country’s betting laws unconstitutional.

According to the judgement German states must introduce new laws by the end of 2007 – a move welcomed by Ladbrokes as an opportunity to see regulated competition introduced into the German market.

AFX

LOTTO

Swedish village seeks mystery lotto winner

After Sweden's Wednesday night lotto draw, one lucky winner took home the grand slam of 134 million kronor ($19.6 million). Despite the ticket being bought in a small town, the owner is still unidentified.

“It’s unbelievable! ‘Bullshit’, I said and hung up when I was told that the lottery ticket had been purchased in our shop,” said Sofie Skepphagen of the Storebro Kiosk and Grill near Vimmerby to daily Aftonbladet.

The little community of Storebro outside of Vimmerby is all aflutter since the news came in on Wednesday evening that there was a newly made multi-millionaire in their midst.

And at Sweden’s gaming monopoly Svenska Spel, they still have no idea who the anonymous winner is.

“I have said it many times before, but this time I will stress it particularly, keep the ticket safe,” said Pierre Jonsson from the company in a statement.

“The only way to get your hands on the money is by presenting the winning ticket.”

The win is the third highest in Swedish lottery history, beaten by two previous grand slams of some 215 million kronor in 2010 and 135 million kronor in 2008.

“What a brilliant start to the gaming year,” Jonsson said.

But the lucky winner’s identity is still unknown among the residents of Storebro.

“We haven’t got a clue who the winner is. But it is a small community so the news will most likely travel like wild fire through the houses,” Skepphagen told Aftonbladet.

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