Swedish advertising regulators have a stern message for newspapers that run advertisements from unauthorized online gambling operators: knock it off or pay the price. That message was delivered late last week on the website of Lotteriinspektionen, the regulatory authority in charge of gambling matters throughout Sweden.

The conflict between regulators and advertisers is one that rages throughout Europe and the UK, and the saga playing out in Sweden is a pretty good example of how that drama plays out.

At the center of the conflict is a free newspaper called Metro that’s handed out to commuters throughout the country. Like most small newspapers, the Metro is more than happy to accept advertising from international gambling operators. Unfortunately, the Lotteriinspektionen looks at those same operators and sees the face of the enemy. After all, the Swedish lottery monopoly is protected by regulations that prevent media outlets from promoting any lottery other than the one that is sanctioned by the government.

While Metro isn’t the first Swedish media outlet to run ads for unsanctioned gambling sites, it’s the site that’s clearly been picked out to be used as an example of what happens to outlets that do engage in that activity. Lotteriinspektionen has threatened a fine of right around $30,000 (USD), according to a report on Gaming Intelligence (subscription required).

The core issue here is really how established government monopolies react to the threats posed by an open marketplace where competitors of all stripes are allowed to compete for business using free market tactics. In Sweden’s case, it appears that the monopoly will enjoy its protected status for a bit longer.

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