Swedish government bets on open gambling market

Foreign companies could be allowed to enter the Swedish gambling market when the state-run monopoly, Svenska Spel is dismantled, Sweden's new minister for financial markets has said.

Mats Odell told Swedish Radio on Saturday that the current situation is ‘pure wild west’, since Swedes can simply gamble on the internet.

The government is considering introducing licences which both Swedish and foreign gaming firms will be able to buy – a scheme which could earn the state billions of kronor. At the same time, the government will attempt to stop online gambling with unlicenced firms.

The Christian Democrats – of which Mats Odell is a member – have previously supported Sweden’s gambling monopoly. Now, however, they share the view of the Moderates and Liberals that it should be scrapped.

Even with today’s system, which Odell considers is unsustainable and which he calls ‘an ostrich policy’, many people become addicted to gambling.

The government is looking for other ways to control this dependency. Odell told SR that licences are one control method and through paying for them, gaming firms will be making an economic contribution to the fight against gambling addiction.