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Gambling monopoly 'targets the poor'

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13:15 CEST+02:00
Svenska Spel, Sweden's state-owned gambling company, has been accused of deliberately targeting gaming machines in areas with major social problems and low average incomes.

A survey commissioned from the parliamentary research authorities by Moderate member of parliament Tomas Tobé showed that Botkyrka, a suburb of Stockholm with low average incomes, has 52 of Svenska Spel's Jack Vegas gambling machines. Danderyd, one of Stockholm's wealthiest suburbs, has no Jack Vegas machines.

According to Tobé, the survey shows that Svenska Spel's strategy is to "place machines in areas with low incomes and major social problems, at the same time as avoiding areas where the opposite is true."

"The fact that support for gambling addicts is so low as to be next-to non-existent at the same time as the state's own company is increasing access [to gambling] rings false," he said.

Svenska Spel CEO Jesper Kärrbrink defended his company's actions.

"Our job is to provide safe and responsible options in the areas where the players are. It is quite possible that there are more people interested in playing on these kind of machines in Botkyrka than in Danderyd. It is therefore quite natural that our machines should be situated there," he told Swedish Radio.

But Tobé said the survey showed that the current model was not working. He called for the company to be privatized and a gambling licensing system to be introduced. He also called for new taxes on gambling and stricter marketing rules.

"Sweden needs a model that ends the state's role as a player on the market. At the same time its role as a regulator needs to be strengthened and monitoring of the gambling market needs to be made more independent," he said.

Tobé said he and party colleagues from Gävleborg would put a proposal to abolish the gambling monopoly to the Moderate Party's conference in October.

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