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Christian Democrats change policy on gambling

Published måndag 25 april 2011 kl 11.07

The Christian Democrats are on the way to changing their policy on Sweden's restrictive gambling laws.

The party, a member of the centre-right government coalition, has always supported the current state run monopoly on gambling under Svenska Spel.

But in an interview with Swedish Radio's Ekot news, the party's culture spokesperson, Andreas Carlsson, said that as online gambling was now freely available, a change could be considered to opening up the market to foreign operators such as Ladbrokes who have challenged Sweden's monopoly in the European courts.

"The most important thing for the Christian Democrats is the responsibility taken for the gamblers - that they take some social responsibility. This can be missing if you allow private operators into a market without control and who take no responsibility for those who place a bet with them," Carlsson said.

The Christian Democrats have always said that controlling betting by one body, the state, protects those vulnerable in society from gambling addiction. Andreas Carlsson told Ekot that as long as Svenska Spel was alone in handling bets in Sweden then the policy was logical. Now with the massive number of people gambling online, one can no longer say that those vulnerable in society are being protected by the monopoly law.

Andreas Carlsson said that opening up the market to the likes of Unibet and Ladbrokes would enable the government to benefit from an increase in tax revenue as well as offering strict controls on any license given to operators.

"I have met some of those operators and they want to establish themselves in Sweden and take responsibility for those who gamble. It would be possible for them to appear in Sweden and have staff in Sweden and be owned outside Sweden, and also pay tax in Sweden, and also receive strict guidelines on their responsibilities to gamblers," Carlsson said.

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