Swedish tabloid thumbs nose at advertising laws

There's a power play underfoot in Sweden: Swedish law prohibits media from publishing advertising from "unauthorized" gaming companies; tabloid Aftonbladet says it's going to anyway, despite a court decision blessing stiff fines if they do.

Media say the ad ban blatantly contravenes the Swedish constitution and European Union rules. Swedish courts, to this point, have found otherwise and ruled against the media in all cases tried.

The next battle is now at hand: Swedish English-language news outlet, The Local, is reporting the Södermanland district court ruled the government's Gaming Board (Lotteriinspektionen) can fine Aftonbladet 150,000 kronor for every foreign gambling ad published.

Aftonbladet says it intends to publish an ad for Maltese gambling company Expekt anyway, despite the ruling.

"We do not consider that we have done anything illegal," Aftonbladet spokesman Olof Brundin told The Local.

Officials at Lotteriinspektionen see it differently:

"I would call this contempt of court, pure and simple," the board's chief legal advisor, Håkan Hallstedt, said in the paper. "One wonders how many convictions will be needed for the newspapers to stop publishing these advertisements."

The only authorized gambling companies in Sweden are Svenska Spel and ATG, and certain lotteries for volunteer organizations.

A variety of media in Sweden do publish "unauthorized" ads already, and the Gaming Board estimates they make around 500 billion kronor a year from the ads.

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