BOS Objects to Proposed Gambling Tax Increase in Sweden

The Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling (BOS) has expressed its opposition to the government’s memorandum proposing an increase in gambling tax from 18% to 22%, starting July 1, 2024. Representing twenty licensed gambling companies operating in Sweden, BOS challenges this proposal, citing its conflict with the government’s objectives for a healthy and secure gambling market.

BOS argues that raising the gambling tax could lead to a decrease in channelization to the regulated Swedish market, inadvertently boosting the unlicensed gambling sector. A higher tax on licensed gambling would diminish its competitiveness compared to unlicensed options, which could be more appealing due to lower or no taxation.

The concept of channelization, which reflects the proportion of gambling on the licensed market versus the unlicensed market, is critical. Sweden aims for a 90% target, meaning that only 10% of gambling should ideally occur outside the licensed market. However, BOS notes that recent actions suggest the government is distancing itself from this target, potentially undermining the efficacy of Sweden’s gambling policy.

BOS’s concerns extend to the impacts on media and sports, which receive significant funding from the gambling industry. An increase in tax could lead to reduced advertising and sponsorships, affecting these sectors and ultimately harming the gambling market’s attractiveness. Additionally, BOS points out the lack of analysis on the proposal’s potential effects on gambling addiction, lost tax revenue due to reduced channelization, and the overall gambling market.

Referencing a study by Copenhagen Economics, BOS highlights that the optimal tax range for Sweden’s conditions is between 15-20%. Exceeding this threshold could lead to lower channelization and reduced long-term tax revenue. BOS urges the government to focus on reforms that strengthen channelization, cautioning against solely relying on repressive measures to exclude unlicensed operators. Repressive measures, they argue, should complement an inherently attractive licensed gambling market, not substitute for it.

In conclusion, BOS strongly recommends against the proposed tax increase, advocating for a gambling market that remains appealing and competitive while adhering to regulatory goals.

“The government can hardly time its proposal to raise the gambling tax to a worse time. We are in a situation where fewer and fewer players choose to play on the safe licensed market, and more and more on the unregulated, unlicensed gambling market. That the government proposes to raise the tax for licensed gambling is the best Christmas present you can think of – to the unregulated and unlicensed gambling market,” says Gustaf Hoffstedt.

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