One might think that the modern history of Swedish gambling policy is a dry and boring subject. But it is actually exciting, with plenty of fascinating stories about political maneuvering and corporate power struggles. It also tells a lot about politics, society and culture in modern Sweden.
The story of Swedish gambling policy is told in the book Spela lagom: Hur drömmen om snabba pengar gjorde Sverige spelberoende, written by journalists Anton Gustavsson and Adam Svanell. The title is difficult to translate into English (“lagom” being a unique Swedish concept), but approximately it is “Gamble with moderation: How the dream of easy money made Sweden addicted to gambling”.
The book describes how Swedish gambling policy changed from restrictive and monopolistic, to expansive and monopolistic, and finally to the current system where “responsible” gambling is a key concept and the market is divided between a few companies that either are state owned or non-commercial. The book also discusses the political issues relating to a possible partial licensing system in the future.
This is a documentary book written by to journalists. It is very well written and well informed. The analytical depth, in the academic sense, is of course limited. But the authors nevertheless give the reader a basic idea of the social and cultural meanings of gambling in Swedish society. I was one of the many people interviewed by the authors and they refer to some of my academic works on gambling.
The book is a must read to anyone interested in gambling, contemporary Swedish culture, and policy issues!