he consultation took place after the Nyren report was submitted to the Swedish government on 15 December 2008. The Nyren report intended to propose “long term sustainable gaming regulations”. It has, however, failed to provide a basis for future regulation. This was clearly echoed by the Swedish Finance Minister when he admitted that “it was difficult to see a way forward here”.
Such a state of affairs is extremely worrying given that Swedish gaming legislation is already in breach of EC law. The European Commission first objected to Sweden’s protectionist gaming legislation in October 2006 before sending a “reasoned opinion” in July 2007, followed by a “letter of formal notice” in relation to the restrictions of cross-border poker services in January 2008.
In its response to the consultation, EGBA clearly evidences that the report is fundamentally flawed as it assumes that the foundations of the current Swedish gaming regulations are in fact compliant with EC law. The report, which is the 8th since 1992, proposes to either retain the current gambling regulations or pave the way for a restrictive licensing system which in any case would not meet basic requirements laid down by EC law and the jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
According to Sigrid Ligné, EGBA Secretary General: “Our detailed analysis shows that - even if considered by the Swedish government as a basis for future legislation - none of the Nyren recommendations would help to ensure a level playing field for all European operators and would meet the requirements of the EC Treaty. In times of economic hardship, the Commission and its senior officials, as guardians of the EC Treaty, must ensure more than ever that its foundations of free movement in goods and services are respected. We urge the Commission to bring Sweden to the European Court of Justice.”
As a result, the conclusion to be drawn today is that nothing has changed since the Commission first challenged Sweden’s gambling legislation back in October 2006. The current situation shows all too clearly that there is no concrete commitment by the government to move towards a regulatory system that is compatible with EC law.