The problem between the Swedish state gambling monopoly Svenska Spel and the Swedish newspapers has been on going for several years now. The state gambling monopoly claims that the local print media is breaking the law by continuing to accept advertising from gambling operators who are based outside Sweden.
The dispute came to the fore again at the beginning of 2014 because towards the end of last year the European Commission issued two warnings to Sweden to bring its gambling legislation into line with the laws in place in the European Union. These reports were sent to Sweden at the same time as seven European countries were sent notification that the gambling policies being followed in their countries infringed present European laws. Those involved in the online casino industry had been waiting for several years for an official response to complaints that some European countries had protectionist type gambling policies in place which breach the right of free movement of commodities within the European Union. (See article: European Union begins to take action on online gambling legislation).Svenska Spel wants a ban to be placed on Swedish newspapers accepting advertisements for online casinos operating from outside the country even if these casinos hold a recognised European gambling licence. The state monopoly claims that it is losing income because of the ads by international online casino operators. After the European Commission’s warnings the Swedish media publishers trade association Tidningsutgivarna made a complaint to the Commission about the present situation in Sweden and this has led to the dispute between the state monopoly and the newspapers heating up even more.
The media is accusing the state gambling monopoly of breaking European Union laws while chairperson of this monopoly claims that the very same European Union laws allow member states to restrict access to each country’s own gambling markets. This has been counteracted by the Tidningsutgivarna saying that gambling monopolies are only allowed if they are in place to protect gamblers and it points out that the Svenska Spel has greatly increased its own marketing budget over the years. With both sides on the defensive, it does not look like the problem will be solved anytime in the near future.