Sweden’s state-run (for the moment) gambling monopoly Svenska Spel is looking for a new leader after its longtime CEO announced his resignation.
On Friday, Svenska Spel chairman Erik Strand announced that CEO Lennart Käll had informed the company that he plans to step down from his chief executive role by the end of this summer. Strand said the hunt for Käll’s successor is already underway and a candidate would be identified by the spring.
Käll assumed the CEO’s role in 2011, and said Friday that he was proud of what he and his team had managed to accomplish over the past seven years. Käll said the company was “well prepared and look[ing] forward to competing on equal terms” with the internationally licensed online gambling operators who serve (and dominate) the Swedish market.
Sweden is in the home stretch of revamping its gambling market, which will finally allow international sites to apply for local licenses starting sometime this summer, with the official relaunch of the new liberalized market scheduled for January 1, 2019.
Svenska Spel has long chafed at the restrictions imposed on it by Sweden’s government, including the inability to offer Swedes an online casino product. The new legislation will finally allow Svenska Spel to offer a full product range and Käll claimed “work on adapting the organization for the new gaming market is proceeding according to plan.”
It’s strange that Käll would want to turn in his key to the executive washroom just as the playing field is finally being leveled. That is, unless Käll secretly doubts whether Svenska Spel will actually be able to compete with the numerous international sites that have built solid relationships with Swedish punters over the years.
COOL UNDER FIRE
Then again, maybe Käll is just looking for a job where he doesn’t face the likelihood of being threatened at gunpoint. In April 2016, Käll was driving to work one morning when two cars cut him off. A man got out of one of the cars, put a gun to Käll’s head and tied his hands behind his back.
As Käll told Swedish media outlet Helagotland, the gunman then demanded Käll pay him SEK 2.9m (US$369k), which the man claimed was the total sum his father had lost betting with Svenska Spel over the years.
The gunman eventually left after stealing Käll’s smartphone and bank cards, then ordering Käll to put the aforementioned SEK2.9m into his bank account so the gunman could withdraw it. Once Käll was free, he called the police, who apprehended the gunman and his accomplices later that same day.
Käll, who went on to write a book about his experience, claimed his family was more freaked out by the incident than he was, as he spent the evening watching a hockey playoff game.