Kindred and Betsson request to join ATG pools rejected

12 July 2019

Kindred and Betsson have failed in a bid to join AB Trav och Galopp's (ATG) horse racing pools, after Sweden's Competition Authority (Konkurrensverket) rejected the request.

The Konkurrensverket concluded that ATG has the right to choose its trading partners, and added that by allowing the two operators to commingle pool betting liquidity with the market leader, it would harm competition in Sweden.

By refusing the commingling request, Konkurrensverket said, Kindred and Betsson would instead be more likely to set up their own horse racing pools, thus increasing the range of products available to consumers. The Authority noted that a number of licensees had already done so, adding that there was nothing in the legislation that suggested ATG was obliged to agree to any commingling requests.

The issue was first raised by operator association Branschföreningen för onlinespel (BOS) in April this year. BOS lodged a complaint with the Authority, aruging that ATG had effectively been able to maintain its monopoly status in the horse racing market by refusing to pool liquidity with other licensees in the market.

The complaint demanded ATG give BOS members Kindred and Betsson access to its racing pools, either on the same terms as international partners such as Norway's Rikstoto, Danske Spil and France’s Pari-Mutuel Urbain, or on reasonable commercial terms.

ATG was the sole horse race betting licensee in Sweden until January 1, 2019, when it lost its monopoly status and shifted to competing against the private market after igaming regulations came into force.

“Treating gaming companies so differently from a dominant position is an abuse and violates competition law,” BOS secretary general Gustaf Hoffstedt said at the time.

However the Konkurrensverket has now rejected the request, and said it will take no further action on the matter, with the plaintiffs given no leave to appeal.

ATG chief executive Hasse Lord Skarplöth described the Authority's ruling as a "healthy and well-balanced decision".

"There is fierce competition in the gaming market and it is evident that ATG itself will decide with whom it partners,” Skarplöth said.