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BOS cautiously optimistic for industry’s future as Sweden seeks new government

| By Marese O'Hagan
Sweden’s Trade Association for Online Gambling, Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS) said that the governmental collapse in Sweden could have "positive" implications for the gambling industry overall, but could also affect short-term government initiatives that are currently in place.

Sweden’s Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, announced today that he would be stepping down from his post after the Riksdag declared a motion of no confidence in his government.

Speaking for BOS, secretary general Gustaf Hoffstedt stated that the news could be a beneficial development from a gambling regulation perspective, as there may be personnel changes at the ministry responsible for gambling regulation. Hoffstedt said that incumbent Minister for Social protection Aradalan Shekarabi does not have much concern for a healthy gambling market.

“The possibility to pick political points by criticizing and make life miserable for the privately owned and international gambling industry always comes first, hand in hand with his willingness to offer state owned and/or state governed gambling operators special treatment,” commented Hoffstedt.

Hoffstedt further explained that since the Swedish government is currently a “caretaker government” following Löfven’s resignation, the process to impose new regulations has been slowed.

In addition, Hoffstedt said that another positive aspect is that the vote of no confidence proved the Swedish government “acts without support from the Parliament” in issues including those of gambling regulation.

“Almost all political parties agreed on the agenda regarding gambling regulation five to ten years ago,” Hoffstedt added. “Nowadays the opposition often criticizes the Minister for his action in areas related to gambling, claiming that he has abandoned the agenda that jointly was decided prior to the reregulation in 2019.”

Although, according to BOS, this could be a constructive development, Hofstedt outlined a number of gambling-related initiatives that could be affected.

“It will be difficult for the government to extend [the temporary Covid-19 measures] beyond November 14 as long as the government is a caretaker government. It will also be difficult to end them early for the same reason.”

The Swedish government announced the extension of the temporary measures, which include a SEK5,000 (£424/€491/$600) deposit cap to November 14 2021 in May, following months of controversy and opposition from BOS.

According to Hoffstedt, BOS believes that the government had intended to introduce an encompassing gambling bill to the Riksdag before the next Swedish general election in September 2022. He said this bill may include more restrictions for the industry.

“It is however impossible for the government to propose such bill at the moment. Preparations may continue, but it is likely that the process is slowing down. This is positive.”

Laying out possible future scenarios, BOS said it was possible Löfven returns to his position and creates a new center-left government, with Shekarabi overseeing gambling regulation. Alternatively, opposition leader Ulf Kristersson may form a center-right government, that would likely include ministers with a “relatively positive” view of the gambling industry, but this – he said – could be tempered by socially conservative views on gambling within the governing parties.

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