The world’s largest fixed-odds betting company, Ladbrokes, has described this week’s report from the Swedish National Gambling Consultation on online gaming as ‘protectionist’ and anti-competitive.
Sweden’s State-owned gambling monopoly, Svenska Spel, is the only body currently allowed to offer sportsbetting services online to Swedish residents. However, this arrangement has come under increasing pressure from the European Commission for violating competition regulations.
Reported here yesterday, the public commission recommended breaking up parts of Svenska Spel’s monopoly by January of 2011 and allow non-Swedish companies to offer online sportsbetting services subject to strict guidelines. In addition, the Consultation stated that Svenska Spel should keep its monopolies for Internet poker and online casino games because these are considered particularly dangerous for people with gambling problems.
'This is a last-ditch attempt to avoid a referral to the European Court of Justice for Sweden's protectionist and unfair betting and gaming laws and yet, even now, the report seeks to extend the reach of the monopoly to cover online gaming including poker and bingo and further enshrines protection in land-based lotteries, slot machines, casinos and horseracing,” said John O'Reilly, Managing Director of Remote Betting and Gaming for Ladbrokes.
“None of the European Union principles of proportionality or free and fair competition across border have been taken into account in this paper. It is more monopoly, not less. The impact will be to protect Government revenues, penalise competitors and ensure a negative effect on the consumer.'
Ladbrokes stated that the recommendations do allow for competition in sportsbetting but protect Svenska Spel with regards to horseracing betting.
'All operators like Ladbrokes ask is the ability to compete on a level playing field,” said O’Reilly.
“We see no reason why Ladbrokes cannot abide by Swedish regulations as well as any monopoly operator. That's what a licensing and regulatory system should be there to ensure.”