For many years, the Swedish government has effectively applied stall tactics to delay the inevitable review of the Swedish gambling regime. Now, despite the European Commission’s threat of legal actions in November 2013, Sweden has requested even more time to address the issues with the Swedish gambling legislation.
The European Commission initiated inquiries and started infringement proceedings against Sweden already in 2006. However, despite repeated requests that Sweden would amend its legislation to ensure compliance with EU law, the Swedish gambling legislation has remained unchanged.
In November 2013, the European Commission decided to increase the pressure on the Swedish government and gave Sweden a two months deadline to take action and ensure compliance with EU law, or risk having the European Commission referring the matter to the EU Court of Justice. For further details, please refer to the European Commission’s press release available at http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-13-1101_en.htm.
Since representatives of the Swedish government have already declared that a proposal for a new gambling legislation should not be expected until after the election in 2014, it was rather obvious that Sweden would not be able to meet the two months deadline, but would try to persuade the European Commission to await the ongoing legislative review. According to an interview given by Erik Thedéen, State Secretary at the Ministry of Finance, such a request has now been submitted to the European Commission (the interview is available in Swedish at http://www.di.se/#!/finansiell-information/telegram/?NewsId=088faa2a-06b2-4876-80c8-3c9abe2f4825).
How the European Commission will respond to this request remains to be seen. However, with reference to the legal threats issued in November, it would be surprising if the European Commission did not at least push the Swedish government to speed up the legislative process.