Against this background, it may seem less important to talk about the gaming industry and its challenges going forward. But games at the same time stand for something that is very human: Our need for entertainment, excitement – and to be allowed to dream!
In addition, we contribute to society. Tax revenues from the Swedish gambling industry strengthen the treasury in difficult times as well as in good ones. Svenska Spel delivers its entire profit to the owner, the state. During the 25 years that Svenska Spel has existed, SEK 107 billion has gone back to society.
But it is also about what we want to achieve going forward.
Svenska Spel’s goal is to offer entertainment while minimizing the risks associated with gambling. In 2023, we want to be even sharper in that work, and more precise. We will look further into how we can strengthen protection for the vulnerable group of young adults. In 2022, we saw very good results when we lowered the general maximum deposit limit for 18-19-year-olds to SEK 1,000/month. We will now take those insights with us in our continued work.
Our long-term support for Swedish research on gambling and gambling addiction has begun to bear fruit in more and more domestic studies on how risky gambling can best be countered. It is incredibly important to customers that our care work is based on scientific evidence, and makes a real difference. That is why we decided last year to add another 42 million kroner to Swedish gaming research over the next five years.
We also want to see sharper government protection against over-indebtedness, and a national debt register. Gambling addiction is often financed with payday loans, leading to personal tragedies. Even if the individual gets help to get out of their addiction, the debts remain. 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.
There are more important issues for the gambling industry and society in 2023. Svenska Spel was early on in the issue of match-fixing, that is, athletes are threatened or bribed to underperform so that criminal actors can make money from an unexpected game result.
After many years of struggle, the work has produced political results. Just before Christmas, we received an early Christmas present from the government, which in a bill, among other things, wants to make it easier for gambling companies and authorities to share information with each other. Svenska Spel’s expert Dan Korhonen explains this in more detail in his blog.
One of the concrete proposals is that gambling companies on the Swedish license market will now be obliged to disclose the information needed to investigate crimes in connection with gambling at the request of the authorities.
A matter of course? Yes, we at Svenska Spel have thought so all these years. Unfortunately, the entire industry has not caught up behind. 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.
So if I can wish for something for 2023, it is that the Swedish gaming industry can come together around more positive initiatives. That is why 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. 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.
During 2023, Svenska Spel will continue the work with increased gender equality in sports. In 2020, we decided to distribute all our sponsorship funds, around SEK 300 million annually, equally between female and male athletes. Among other things, we entered into a long-term giant investment in Swedish women’s hockey.
Now we are starting to see signs that the investment is paying off. Between 2021 and 2022, the number of girls playing hockey in Sweden increased by 29 percent – the largest annual increase ever. But there is of course a lot left to do in both hockey and the other sports we sponsor, and we promise to continue working there in 2023.
We are also looking at how we can become even sharper within the Gräsroten initiative, the project which during its 10-year history added over half a billion kroner to Swedish youth sports.
In short: I see 2023 as a year in which Svenska Spel takes new steps to contribute to a better society, while at the same time offering our 4 million customers the best imaginable entertainment. We will make it easy, fun, and safe. That’s our New Year’s resolution.
President and CEO, Svenska Spel.