Swedish regulator’s resignation sparks fear of liberalization delay


Lotteriinspektionen-Hallstedt-sweden-gaming-regulatorThe head of Sweden’s gambling regulatory agency is exiting his post ahead of schedule, prompting concerns that his absence will impact the country’s push to liberalize its online gambling market.

On Friday, Sweden’s Gambling Regulatory Authority (Lotteriinspektionen) announced that general director Hakan Hallstedt (pictured) had been appointed a judge in Blekinge District Court, a position he will take up on May 15. Hallstedt will resign as Lotteriinspektionen director at the end of March.

Hallstedt, who has headed up Lotteriinspektionen since September 2008, was originally supposed to step down when his current term ended this September. But Hallstedt apparently felt the need to leave ahead of schedule, and the Lotteriinspektionen has yet to name his replacement.

News of Hallstedt’s exit was broken earlier this week by eGaming Review. Hallstedt, who also sits on the board of investigators tasked with recommending the optimal approach for the revamp of Sweden’s gambling market, confirmed to eGR that he would have no more involvement in the process once the board submits its recommendations on March 31.

A number of Swedish-facing international online gambling operators – who had long advocated for Sweden to bring an end to the state-owned Svenska Spel’s online gambling monopoly – expressed varying degrees of concern that Hallstedt’s absence could complicate the market’s re-regulation push.

Betsson CEO Ulrik Bengtsson said Hallstedt’s absence was a surprise move that “may create a hiccup in the process.” Bengtsson noted with some trepidation that this isn’t the first time Sweden has attempted to rejig its gambling market “and they have all failed.”

Kindred Group public affairs chief Peter Alling expressed disappointment at Hallstedt’s exit, suggesting it could cause the liberalization push to lose momentum, while hoping that there was “no other agenda that has influenced his work and forced him to leave.”

Mr Green co-founder Mikael Pawlo hoped that the government would act quickly to name Hallstedt’s successor, because the longer the delay, “the more doubt it may reflect on the political agenda.”