ATG CEO hits out over proposed tax hike

Finance News

ATS’s presence in Almedalen is a natural step of our mission; to create a better gaming industry. We do this by talking to politicians, authorities, decision makers, gambling addiction organizations and industry colleagues – all on site in Visby.

“We don’t understand why you don’t drop that thing with the gambling tax” . One of the guests at our well-attended mingling sounded genuinely surprised when we met over a hamburger in Almedalen. “How could we let go” , I replied, “the consequences are fatal for an entire industry and if I and Swedish Travsport don’t fight for the issue, who will?”.

Thankfully, there are actually a few more who are prepared to fight for the increased gambling tax, Lisen Bratt Fredricson for example. Lisen is known in horse circles all over the world and has been named Sweden’s most powerful woman several times. On a daily basis, she is CEO of Grevlundagården and the brains behind many projects that drive the horse industry forward in Sweden. During the Almedal week, she participated in ATG’s seminar on the theme “Raise the tax on casino gambling and save Swedish public health”.

For me, as a representative of a commercial actor, it is very easy to stumble into a merry-go-round of kroner and ören – that is, after all, what a commercial activity is all about. In the case of ATG with an additional dimension – it is our mission to generate as much money as we can for the horse industry. Therefore, it is both refreshing and uplifting to listen to Lisen when she tells about what horses have not only done for her as a person, but also about the relationship between man and horse. And how the relationship with horses can nurture a person into a leader.

Maria Croon, CEO of Svensk Travsport, at the same time painted a rather dark picture of the industry’s future. She expressed great concern about the financial consequences of the new tax and pointed out that a positive basic view from politicians is not enough to pay feed and prize money.

The fact is that politicians we spoke to find it difficult to argue that an increase in the gambling tax, which directly affects ATG’s contribution to the horse industry, is unproblematic. On the contrary, they hasten to add “if the increase is too large and has negative consequences, we will have to reconsider”. But the industry is already on its knees and unfortunately does not have the margin to “wait and see”.

Speaking of politicians, we were also asked why no politician agreed to participate in the panel. My honest answer is that I don’t know, because we’ve probably asked, but no one has picked up. And as always, whoever doesn’t have the answer starts speculating.

Could it be that the question is uncomfortable? That it is difficult for a politician to defend how a supposed income justifies pulling the rug out for an entire industry?

I choose the word ‘presumed’ revenue because we see how unlicensed gambling is continuously increasing, and whoever plays unlicensed does not bring any revenue to the state. The scissors thus risk cutting at both ends, the horses lose funding, and the state loses revenue. The unlicensed companies remain as winners.

As I write this, my phone is pinging; a journalist wants to know why ATG is going to Almedalen.

The answer is simple. ATG goes to Almedalen because legislators make decisions based on the information they have on the table. We want them to have our info. We want them to care about ATG as a company and the horse industry as an industry. I write that we know that the legislators are in Almedalen, but regret that they do not want to participate in our panel.

I also write that we had the chance to meet a number of municipal politicians who are both familiar with the issue and understanding of the problem.

During Almedal Week, there is never a long way between the people and those who decide – therefore it has never felt so important to be there as it is this year.

Hasse Lord Skarplöth