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Kevin Smith

Sweden to Regulate Internet Poker?

16 September 2005

Recent remarks by a Swedish government official have the country's national lottery hopeful that it will be allowed to launch an Internet poker room.

During an interview at the end of the annual Spelakademin (Gaming Academy) meetings in Visby, Sweden, the country's vice prime minister, Boss Ringholm, said he felt that it was only right to give licensed Swedish gaming operators the same business opportunities that private foreign operations enjoy in the country.

Sweden has been a base of operations for some of the leading bookmakers in Europe for a few years, and Ringholm suggested that Swedish firms be allowed to compete against them and their online operations as long as the new channels are operated responsibly.

Ringholm's comments could bode well for national lottery operator Svenska Spel, which is awaiting authorization to launch an online poker room. The company applied for a license in early January and took the comments as a sign that the government is getting close to approving the plan.

Sweden has long been a coveted market for Internet gaming operators. Sales are projected to hit $1.8 billion for the year, with foreign bookmakers controlling nearly 84 percent of the revenue and Swedish operators splitting the remaining revenue (8 percent for Svenska Spel and 8 percent for state-controlled race betting company ATG).

Officials with Svenska Spel predict the group could capture as much as 30 percent of Sweden's Internet poker market and bring in more than $40 million to the Treasury if regulatory approval is given.

Approval could also create as many as 200 jobs in Visby, where both Spelakademin and the head office of Svenska Spel are located.

The 14-year-old academy invites representatives from the country's licensed gaming operators to meet for two days with politicians, public bodies, media representatives, suppliers and researchers to discuss different political, legal, economic and social aspects of the gaming market.

This year's conference also focused on new liberalized gambling legislation expected to be published Dec. 15.

Sweden to Regulate Internet Poker? is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith