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Svenska Spel names Anna Johnson as new CEO

| By Richard Mulligan
Swedish state-owned gambling operator Svenska Spel has named Grant Thornton’s Swedish leader Anna Johnson as its new chief executive.

Johnson will succeed Patrik Hofbauer no later than June 2024, with the current CEO’s departure announced in October. Hofbauer will officially leave Svenska Spel on 31 January 2024, with group chairman Erik Strand to become interim CEO until Johnson’s arrival.

Johnson is an authorised accountant and has been employed by global accounting services group Grant Thornton since 1998. She is currently a partner at the business and CEO in Sweden, a role she has held for seven years.

“Anna Johnson has a successful leadership based on inclusion and building strong teams that create customer value which has resulted in profitable growth over the years,” Strand said.

“Her drive and curiosity are excellent qualities for the task of leading Svenska Spel. We have implemented significant changes in recent years and are today well equipped to offer sustainable gaming experiences that contribute to a better Sweden.

“The board and I are very much looking forward to working together with Anna and her management team.”

Johnson welcomes Svenska Spel’s “journey of change”

Johnson said: “This is a fantastic opportunity and I am both grateful and humbled by the trust.

“Svenska Spel has one of Sweden’s strongest brands. The group has a unique position and opportunity to run sustainable gaming that contributes both joy and excitement to the benefit of the Swedish people and Swedish sports.

“I am really looking forward to leading Svenska Spel’s journey of change together with the employees and continuing to create results.”

Hofbauer is to become president and CEO at telecommunications company Telia Company in February after five years leading Svenska Spel.

In its most recent trading update, Svenska Spel said Q3 revenue was up just 1% year-on-year to SEK1.97bn ($177m/€167m/£145m). That stagnation was in line with the Swedish market, which stopped growing in H1 for the first time since mid-2020.

Swedish gambling industry under the microscope

Johnson’s arrival comes amid a period of reflection for the Swedish gambling industry five years after the market was re-regulated. Last month, Sweden’s National Audit Office commenced an audit of regulator Spelinspektionen (SGA) to investigate whether its supervision is effective.

The Spelinspektionen audit comes in the wake of research showing visitor traffic to unlicensed websites has increased ten-fold since 2019. Data from the operator ATG shows channelisation rates for regulated online gambling in Q3 was between 70% and 82%.

In figures released recently, gross gaming revenue (GGR) from Swedish licence-holders remained steady at SEK6.7bn compared to the previous quarter.

The sharpest increase in turnover came from land-based casinos, registering a 30.5% increase year-on-year. GGR from non-profit lotteries in Sweden in Q3 was down by 8.26%. The GGR reflects a decrease of 0.6% year-on-year, while remaining steady at SEK6.7bn, the same as Q2 2023.

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