Svenska Spel continues to lose its high executives, as two more present their resignation following the departure of former CEO Jesper Kärrbrink. This string of resignations is apparently related to the new policies to discourage gambling that have been introduced by new chairwoman Margareta Winberg.
The Swedish government has changed its policies regarding Svenska Spel, the Swedish gaming monopoly that has been attracting unwelcome attention from the European Court of Justice. After receiving a reasoned opinion from the EU and being warned by Commissioner Charlie Mc Creevy, it appears that the Swedish government is now intent on discouraging gambling and reducing Svenska Spel to a minimum of advertising and products. This has motivated a change in the board, which is now chaired by former deputy Prime Minister Margareta Winberg, whose criticism of former CEO Kärrbrink was a factor that determined his stepping down from the position.
Close on the heels of Mr. Kärrbrink are the resignations from Annica Axelsson – head of the bingo, casino and restaurants division – and Mathias Hedlund, head of internet, telephone and retail betting. Both executives have understandably stepped down from a company which is now intent on losing customers and reducing its revenue, and Mr. Hedlund declared to the Swedish media that “I personally would like to develop the company to be competitive, while at the same time maintaining our social responsibility. But with the new direction, I am not the right person for the job.”
It remains to be seen whether these remedial actions can persuade the ECJ to allow Sweden to retain its gaming monopoly, even though in previous years it has been the greatest advertiser in Sweden and has seen annual profits upwards of 5 billion Swedish kroner (about $7 million).