Swedish industry calls on new gambling minister to break up Svenska Spel

| By Daniel O'Boyle
Swedish trade association Branscheforenigen för Onlinespel (BOS) highlighted three priorities that it hoped new minister for financial markets Niklas Wykman would deal with, as he takes over gambling policy as part of Sweden’s new government.

The appointment follows an election earlier this year in which the previous centre-left coalition was voted out in favour of a right-leaning coalition led by the Moderate Party.

At the time, BOS said that it hoped the new government would be more welcoming to the gambling industry, and in particular that it would relax the country’s strict limit on bonuses.

Wykman – a Moderate Party member – was appointed as minister for financial markets, a role that will include taking charge of the gambling sector.

The placement of gambling under a role within the Finance Ministry is a change from the previous setup, when Ardalan Shekerabi was responsible for gambling first as civil minister and then as minister for social affairs. However, it is in keeping with how the sector was governed during the previous Moderate-Party-led government, which was in power from 2006 to 2014

BOS chief executive Gustaf Hoffstedt said that the change in which the minister is responsible for gambling should not necessarily be interpreted as a statement on the new government’s plans for gambling and it was still too early to draw conclusions in this area.

“We look forward to having a discussion with Niklas Wykman about how gambling policy can best be developed in Sweden,” he said. “We will have three important messages in those discussions. 

“Firstly, the licensed gambling companies must be protected at the expense of the unlicensed ones. 

“Secondly, the state should concentrate on making laws that the rest of us must follow rather than acting as a commercial gambling company itself and, thirdly, it would be welcome if Wykman, as the first minister in any Swedish government, dares to highlight the gambling industry’s important business and political significance for Sweden and Europe.”

The second priority refers to the Swedish government’s role as an operator through lottery operator Svenska Spel. The Moderate Party had previously called for Svenska Spel to be broken up and the arm of the business that deals with licensed activities – such as online gaming – to be privatised.