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BOS welcomes enquiry’s dismissal of racing levy

| By Daniel O'Boyle
Swedish online operator association Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS) has welcomed the decision by a government enquiry to recommend against a statutory betting levy for horse racing.

BOS’s reaction follows an announcement by Anna-Lena Sörenson, head of the Swedish Gambling Market Enquiry, in business newspaper Dagens Industri that the fees would not be applied.

Former racing monopoly AB Trav och Galopp (ATG) had previously called for a uniform betting levy to be paid by all operators offering bets on racing, citing the fact that currently it pays its annual surplus, around SEK2bn per year, to support the racing industry while other operators are not required to make similar payments.

“Without our contribution, there is no prize money, no research, no breeder premiums and no maintenance of the courses,” ATG chief executive Hasse Lord Skarplöth said.

ATG’s complaints prompted an enquiry led by Sörenson into whether a levy should be applied on racing betting.

However, Sörenson rejected this concept, arguing that the concern that re-regulated betting would lead to reduced income for the racing industry has not materialised after almost two years.

She noted that ATG still holds a 98% market share in horse racing and the fact that ATG’s own profits have increased since the Swedish market opened up as it was able to offer more verticals such as sports betting and casino.

BOS secretary general Gustaf Hoffstedt, who holds a seat in the Gambling Market Enquiry’s expert group, said Sörenson made the right decision.

“I welcome this sensible conclusion from the Enquiry,” he said. “On a principal level it regards whether one can own data that is open for everyone, it may be the outcome of a horse race, a presidential election or tomorrow’s weather. The answer to that question must be that there cannot be any ownership to such open and accessible information.”

The Enquiry is set to make a decision on whether to apply a similar levy to bets on other sports, such as football or ice hockey, by 16 December. Hoffstedt said that, given the decision on horse racing, the logical decision would be to also reject this levy.

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