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The ruling Moderate Party at its annual conference last week voted to abolish the Swedish government-run monopoly in gambling, Poker News reports.

Breaking up government monopolies in booze, gambling and pharmaceuticals is an established plank of the Moderate Party's platform, so the move is not overly surprising, but the vote is an important push to bring Sweden in line with European Union law.

"Sweden needs a model that ends the state's role as a player on the market. At the same time its role as a regulator needs to be strengthened and monitoring of the gambling market needs to be made more independent," Moderate MP Tomas Tobé noted in April. Moderate Party allies the Liberal Party and the Christian Democrats have also gone on record to support liberalizing Sweden's gambling market.

And they're not alone. Others have expressed similar concerns about the rather bizarre situation of a government pushing its gambling products while simultaneously restricting access by foreigners based on some sort of public morality argument. After all, the Swedes themselves have been pushing expansion into neighboring markets. Compliance with EU law is inevitable - why not get a jump on the competition?

"One could question whether the Nordic monopolies should enter into other markets while they are supposedly trying to protect their own monopolist positions," European Commission spokesman Oliver Drewes once dryly observed.

Further fueling speculation that change is in the offing, gambling monopoly Svenska Spel announced Friday that it had partnered with another state-controlled gaming company to offer online poker in cooperation with Svensak and online-gaming software supplier Boss Media. The unnamed government monopoly is a member of the World Lottery Association and will use Boss Media software and the Svenska Spel security system.®

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