Sweden's BOS said the current difficulties faced by the Swedish government are a "positive" development for gambling operators, as the trading body suggests the possibility of a regulatory rethink.
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven yesterday asked to be relieved of his position as Prime Minister by the Speaker of the Riksdag following a vote of no confidence in his government.
“From a strict BOS perspective – we have no opinion on social issues other than gambling regulation – the development is positive,” said BOS chief Gustav Hoffstedt.
“The reason for this is that the current minister, Mr. Ardalan Shekarabi, has repeatedly demonstrated that he does not have a functioning gambling market as his top priority.
After firing a parting shot at Shekarabi, Hoffstedt added: “The ability to pick up political moments by criticizing and making life miserable for the private and international gambling industry always comes first, hand in hand with his willingness to offer state-owned and/or state-run gambling. Special treatment for gambling operators.”
However, the BOS CEO pointed to the possibility of Lövven and Shekarabi returning to another government due to the opposition party's failure to form a cohesive coalition government.
Hoffstedt suggested that this uncertainty on the part of the government would slow down the process of introducing more stringent regulation on private operators and provide additional benefits to operators with close ties to the government.
BOS has highlighted the potential impact on several government initiatives related to gambling, including temporary restrictions affecting online casino operators that are currently being discussed with a view to extending until November 14th.
He suggested that the possibility of extending the measures beyond that date would be severely limited by uncertainty from the government, with possible delays in action related to the Swedish market research report and a recent proposal to introduce specific moderation requirements for marketing.
“As with Gunnar Larsson's request, we do not know which government and minister will receive responses to the consultations. Continued consideration of the proposal depends on which government and which minister we have in October,” BOS said.
BOS expressed confidence that the Swedish government intended to propose a more extensive gambling law in the run-up to the next general election in September 2022, a process now all but dead.
“However, the government is currently unable to propose such a bill. Preparations may continue, but it is likely that the process is slowing down. This is positive,” the trade organization said in a statement.
If the appointment of a new Swedish prime minister is not approved by the Riksdag, elections will be scheduled within three months to elect a provisional government that could be overthrown in a general election next year.
Discussing the possible implications, BOS named two possible governments, one of which is a centre-left government made up of the ousted Leuven that could see a return to strict gambling regulation.
The second, the trade organization claimed, could be formed from a centre-right government led by Swedish opposition party leader Ulf Kristersson, potentially damaging the industry.
“Such a government is likely to include ministers with relatively positive and liberal attitudes towards the gambling industry, as well as ministers with negative attitudes shaped by beliefs in public health, religion and conservatism,” BOS concluded.