Svenska Spel CEO: restaurant casinos have “no control”

There are 375 restaurant casino permits in Sweden.
There are 375 restaurant casino permits in Sweden.

Patrik Hofbauer has heavily criticised Sweden’s restaurant casino sector and called for an end to its “exemption” from regulations.

Sweden.- Patrik Hofbauer, the president and CEO of the state-run gambling operator Svenska Spel, has heavily criticised Sweden’s restaurant casinos. Writing on the company’s blog, he claims the venues operate “without control”.

Svenska Spel has a monopoly on general land-based casinos in Sweden with its Casino Cosmopol brand, but other operators can offer table games at venues with alcohol licences.

Hofbauer criticised the fact that these so-called restaurant casinos are subject to different rules from the rest of the land-based gaming sector and also provide little official data, causing issues for both gambling harm prevention and money laundering. He said regulations should be changed to introduce tighter controls on safer gambling measures including self-exclusion.

He said: “Today, there are approximately 375 permits for restaurant casinos in Sweden. We do not have statistics on their players who seek help because it is not in the official data that authorities have.

“Those who develop a gambling problem often become ‘mixed addicts’ and gamble on several forms of gambling and with several gambling companies. It is not unlikely that the same pattern is found among guests of restaurant casinos. And with no control.”

He also criticised the amount that gamblers can wager. He said: “With the new gaming law, the wagering limit on blackjack more than tripled, from a maximum of SEK75 (€7.00) to SEK236 per hand. That may sound small, but you can easily lose a thousand a minute under those conditions.

“A high roller is not content to play one hand or one chip. [Gambling harm charity] Spelfriheten says that several of those seeking help say that with alcohol in their bodies, the blackjack table at the nightclub has been more inviting than the dance floor.”

He added: “It’s time to end the exception. Honest business can withstand scrutiny and equal rules of the game. Remove their exemptions from complying with the law on duty of care and money laundering.”

Swedish opposition proposes sale of Svenska Spel

The right-of-centre Moderaterna Party plans to sell off Svenska Spel if it wins Sweden’s general election in September. It has submitted a provisional mandate to Sweden’s national legislature, the Riksdag, proposing the division and sale of the company.

The party, which has formed a four-party right-wing alliance to contest the elections on September 9, announced the move as part of its plans to overhaul Sweden’s gambling legislation, currently governed by the 2019 Gambling Act. Other changes would include constitutional provisions to require the government to obtain approval from the legislature to change gambling laws in the future “due to abuse of power during the past term of office”.  

The party would also scrap Sweden’s restrictions on bonuses and would undo the current government’s recent decision to subject gambling marketing to “adjusted moderation”, which it believes is an attempt to introduce risk classification “via the back door”.

It said that “there is a risk of further eroding the regulated market if operators who have redeemed a licence pay Swedish tax and maintain a high level of consumer protection do not have the opportunity to market their products to a greater extent”.

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