The Swedish government faces charges at the European Court due to its protectionism of the state’s gaming monopoly Svenska Spel. And now there is trouble inside that protected entity, as CEO Jesper Kärrbrink announced his resignation today due to vision differences.
This development may have been brought on by a recent change in the Board of Directors of Svenska Spel – Margareta Winberg, who was recently appointed Chairwoman, has markedly different views from Kärrbrink on how the company should be run, and is not afraid to disclose them. According to Winberg, the “owners” of Svenska Spel (presumably the Swedish government) “wanted a different direction (which) was also a reason for the change in chairperson.”
Soon after assuming her chair, Ms. Winberg made a public statement in the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet on what she intended to improve in Svenska Spel: “Thus far, Svenska Spel's advertising has mostly focused on promoting new games, which is a way of telling people to gamble more (…) Svenska Spel has done a bad job when it comes to social responsibility."
Mr. Kärrbrink made a measured parting declaration before stepping down from his post:
It has recently become clearer that my ideas about how Svenska Spel should be operated are not the same as the owner’s. Because of that I, together with the board members, have decided that the best thing to do in this situation is for the board members to find someone to take my place,
I am very proud about what Svenska Spel has accomplished during these last couple of years. The bids we have made for responsible gaming and social responsibility are unmatched in the gaming industry, both nationally and internationally.
My years with Svenska Spel have been fantastic; I will remember them fondly. This is mainly because of all the wonderful coworkers and their huge commitment.
The search for a new CEO has begun, with Treasurer Anders Hägg serving as temporary CEO in the meantime. According to Ms. Winberg the priority when looking for this new CEO is a focus on responsible gaming. Her parting words about Kärrbrink are ambivalent:
We regret to see Jesper Kärrbrink leaving Svenska Spel. Jesper has been a creative leader and has rearranged Svenska Spel in an efficient way. But I also understand Jesper’s situation: if you don't share the owner’s basic point of view regarding how the company should be run you cannot, of course, lead the company.
Kärrbrink’s parting was negotiated in amicable terms, however, with the former CEO receiving a full year’s salary as severance pay (about $487,000) on the condition that he does not work for a competing company for a whole year.
Mr. Kärrbrink leaves big shoes for his successor to fill, stating in his parting declaration:
A small group of players may feel that the age verification process is intimidating, which could lead to a decrease in gaming profits. If that is the price to secure the 18-year age limit completely it is without doubt worth to pay. The mission to channel gaming into a safe, reliable and controlled environment is more important than ever before. But to manage this will be my successor’s job.