BOS, the Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling, has issued a statement in response to Prime Minister Stefan Löfven’s decision to step down, forecasting what the current situation will imply for the gambling industry’s future.
The Prime Minister resigned after the Riksdag voted no confidence in his cabinet last week. Löfven now has the option of either demanding the dissolution of his administration or calling an election within three months as a result of this decision.
Now that the Prime Minister has decided to leave the present administration, the Speaker of the Riksdag has the duty of appointing a new leader. If all four suggestions for a new Prime Minister are rejected by parliament, a special election will be called within three months, followed by the planned general election in September 2021.
In the interim, the incumbent administration will continue to manage the country’s day-to-day operations without raising any “politically sensitive” matters, as stipulated by Swedish governmental traditions, until a new government with the complete support of the legislature is recognised.
Positive political events
Gustaf Hoffstedt, BOS Secretary General, stated in an official statement that the trade association views the political events as “positive.”
“The reason for this is that the incumbent Minister, Mr Ardalan Shekarabi, repeatedly has shown that he doesn’t have a functioning gambling market as his first priority,” Hoffstedt detailed.
“The possibility to pick political points by criticising and making life miserable for the privately owned and international gambling industry always comes first, hand in hand with his willingness to offer state owned and/or state governed gambling operators special treatment.”
Due to the opposition’s difficulties in building a parliamentary-acceptable administration, Hoffstedt admitted that Prime Minister Löfven and Minister Shekarabi could return to their respective roles in a future government.
Private international gambling
He noted, however, that the changes would at the very least ‘slow down the process of imposing stricter regulation on private international gambling’ and provide ‘further benefits to operators with close ties to the government.’
He added: “The development is also positive in the aspect that it shows that the government acts without support from the Parliament in gambling regulatory issues. During the years in office Minister Shekarabi has wasted the support from the opposition he had prior to the Swedish reregulation.
“Almost all political parties agreed on the agenda regarding gambling regulation five to ten years ago. Nowadays the opposition often criticises the Minister for his action in areas related to gambling, claiming that he has abandoned the agenda that jointly was decided prior to the reregulation in 2019.”
Reclaim control of the gaming business
BOS presently forecasts two political possibilities as a result of Löfven’s decision, the first of which is the Prime Minister’s return to the helm of a centre-left administration, which would see the current course of action continued should Shekarabi reclaim control of the gaming business.
The incumbent Social Democratic Party, which is in charge of overseeing an overhaul of Sweden’s gambling regulations, launched its ‘Gambling Market Enquiry’ in 2020, which made a number of legislative and oversight recommendations, some of which were accepted by the Gambling Inspectorate, Spelinspektionen, while others were rejected.
Furthermore, the administration – via the Ministry of Finance – published a memorandum earlier this month proposing a change in gambling marketing restrictions from “moderation” to “special moderation,” eliciting a critical response from BOS.
The public consultation period for this plan will run until October 14th, primarily in line with the Gunnar Larsson inquiry into channelization and anti-match fixing, which is set to conclude on September 30th. The management of both the proposal and the probe, according to BOS, is greatly influenced by the political situation in October.
Extensive gambling bill
Furthermore, BOS indicated that it believes “the government intended to propose an extensive gambling bill covering many regulatory topics to the Rikstag prior to the next general election,” but that “it is likely that the process is slowing down,” a development seen as “positive.”
Finally, the current Swedish government, led by Löfven, has imposed a slew of temporary COVID-19 restrictions, which BOS claims will be “difficult for the government to extend beyond 14 November” due to the aforementioned Swedish political tradition, but will also be “difficult to shorten” due to the same reason.
The alternative option, according to the trade association, is the formation of a center-right administration led by the Moderate Party. The long-term implications for the gambling business, according to BOS, are difficult to anticipate.
Some Moderate Party officials have ‘positive and liberal’ views on the industry, while others have more unfavourable views ‘shaped in beliefs of public health, religion, and conservatism,’ so the effects of a right-wing government on the betting and gaming industry are not predetermined.