Svenska Spel CEO calls for national debt register to tackle gambling harm

| By Zak Thomas-Akoo
The CEO of Swedish state-owned enterprise Svenska Spel, Patrik Hofbauer, called for a national debt register, alongside other interventions in a public address.
Svenska Spel

Hofbauer highlighted the relationship between gambling addiction and debt, arguing that government action would be required in order to effectively manage the problem.

“Gambling addiction is often financed with payday loans, leading to personal tragedies,” he said. “Even if the individual gets help to get out of their addiction, the debts remain.”

Hofbauer argued that there should be some equivalent with the Swedish gaming self-exclusion platform for those at financial risk.

“Just as there is Spelpaus for those who want to block themselves from gambling and targeted gambling advertising, there should be a ‘loan block’ that protects against quick loans and advertising from loan companies,” said Hofbauer.

patrik hofbauer argues there should be a loan block for problem gamblers

Svenska Spel as a state-owned former monopoly has a mandate to support responsible gaming initiatives more aggressively than a private operator since it is not principally set up for commercial purposes.    

Match-fixing

Hofbauer also argued the importance of recent efforts in mitigating the problem of match-fixing. In particular, the executive thanked the government for the “early Christmas present” that was amendments in the country’s Gambling Act that would allow for better cooperation between industry and government to combat match fixing.

“One of the concrete proposals is that gambling companies on the Swedish licence market will now be obliged to disclose the information needed to investigate crimes in connection with gambling at the request of the authorities,” he said.

While he appreciated that the bill had been passed, Hofbauer stated it was not ideal that the issue required legislation at all – arguing that the problem was a matter of public trust.   

“Unfortunately, the entire industry has not caught up. Now you are forced to do so.

“But acting first under duress is a bad strategy for any industry that wants to improve its reputation. And the gaming industry really needs to increase its trust with the public.”

Public trust

Hofbauer stated that subsequently it was his wish for 2023 that the Swedish gaming industry could work together more positively in the year ahead, pointing to recent events as an example of this in action.

“I am happy that Svenska Spel was able to agree with ATG and Kindred to openly report key figures for how we work with customers who show signs of risky gambling,” he said. “At the end of January, we will publish the first figures.

“This is something that will increase public transparency in how the companies work with the issue and a step in the right direction.”