Sweden’s erstwhile gambling and betting monopoly Svenska Spel has a new CEO to lead the company into a new era of competition.
On Tuesday, Svenska Spel’s board of directors appointed Patrik Hofbauer as the company’s new chief executive. Hofbauer (pictured), is currently the CEO of the Swedish division of Norwegian telecom operator Telenor, and will officially assume his duties by “mid-December 2018.”
Hofbauer is replacing Lennart Käll, who in January announced his intention to step down as Svenska Spel’s CEO after seven years in the role. Käll’s last day on the job will be July 19, after which Svenska Spel CFO/VP Marie Loob will serve as acting CEO until Hofbauer’s arrival.
Svenska Spel chairman Erik Strand welcomed Hofbauer, saying his experience in both the business and sports sectors – Hofbauer was a professional hockey goaltender for 10 years – will be “very valuable” given the “exciting time” facing Svenska Spel as Sweden’s gambling market undergoes a seismic shift.
Hofbauer will assume his new role just weeks before Sweden’s new liberalized online gambling market takes effect on January 1, 2019. Earlier this month, Swedish legislators announced plans to review Svenska Spel and the ATG horseracing monopoly to determine what effects the new competitive reality will have on their operations and their kickbacks to government and the racing industry.
Last week, Sweden’s Lotteriinspektionen gaming regulatory body announced that international online gambling operators seeking to operate in the new regulated market could start obtaining the necessary application forms by July 10. The regulator expects to publish regulations and general advice after July 24, and the plan is for applications to be officially accepted starting August 1.
Hofbauer claimed that Svenska Spel had “a strong position, a strong brand and faces exciting challenges through the new gaming legislation.” Hockey goalies aren’t known for their fighting prowess, but Hofbauer appears eager to drop his gloves and pull the jerseys over the heads of some of his international rivals.
For years, Svenska Spel complained that Swedish law prevented it from offering online casino products, which the monopoly claimed left it unable to compete with internationally licensed gambling sites that offered Swedish punters a full-spectrum offering. Starting on New Year’s Day, Svenska Spel will get to compete on equal terms, although this may not prove to be the great leveler that the company has long predicted.