Swedish prosecutors have been advised to halt cases against media organizations accepting ads from foreign online gambling companies. Many online poker operators may now decide to begin advertising in Sweden, competing openly with state-supoprted Svenska Spel.
The order came from UC Malmo, a department of Sweden’s Prosecution Authority, according to reports by Gaming Intelligence Group.
The decision arises from an appeal made on behalf of Aftonbladet and Expressen, two Swedish newspapers who were previously found guilty of breaching Sweden’s lottery laws by accepting such advertising, and who have been fighting for the past four years to appeal the court verdict.
In January, the former and present editors-in-chief of Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, Anders Gerdin and Jan Helin sent an open letter to European Commission (EC) head Charlie McCreevy, stressing how Sweden’s law did not permit free movement of trade and services relating to online gambling between the 27-member nations, particularly in the fields of poker and sports betting, as guaranteed by EU law.
Following that open letter, the Swedish Court of Appeals was directed to examine the verdict. The appeals court ruled that the Swedish lottery laws were possibly in contradiction with certain articles of the European Court pact.
Stefan Widmark, legal counsel for Aftonbladet, told Gaming Intelligence Group that he was delighted by the recommendations of UC Malmo. „It seems that the courts in Sweden are finally starting to accept the changes taking place in Europe and in EC Law,“ he said.
Widmark added that Aftonbladet is now lodging an appeal with the Administrative Supreme Court over the USD 25,000 fine which it has been handed for each foreign gambling advertisement that the newspaper has accepted. The total value of fines is estimated at close to Euros 100 million.
The ruling to open Swedish media to foreign gambling operators also comes after the European Commission on 31 January began legal action against Sweden challenging their protectionist practices against foreign gambling operators.