In a rather surprising turn of events, Patrik Hofbauer – Chief Executive of Swedish state-owned gambling operator Svenska Spel – has issued a statement that confirms that all forms of online casino advertising in the country have been terminated. The move by the former gambling monopolist reportedly follows an internal discussion pertaining to how best the organization can protect Swedish consumers.

“Svenska Spel has always pushed the line that all the games in the licensed market risk should be classified based on risk levels, and that stricter rules should apply for the riskier games, both in terms of design and marketing. By ending advertising for online casino, we are now taking the plunge,” Hofbauer said during the announcement.

Not A Blanket Ban

Svenska Spel’s move to cease online advertising, fortunately, does will not affect private operators – even under the new regulatory regime in the country, the private online casino operators will be allowed to continue with their existing marketing plans. However, despite the fact that the gaming regulator’s decision is not binding on any of these private operators, the organization’s CEO has implored others to at least consider a similar move as “in the long term, this is the only sustainable option.”

The termination is primarily aimed at helping the Swedish Public Health Authority in treating problem gambling – the chief executive believes that they are going to make a lot of headways since the online casino industry is seemingly the industry outlier.

Worrying Trends

As it turns, the decision to cease all of its online advertising was primarily prompted by a recent survey by the country’s Public Health Agency, otherwise referred to as Folkhälsomyndigheten. The findings of the survey were, in most part, positive – for instance, it revealed that the number of problem gamblers in Sweden has dropped when compared to numbers recorded in 2015 when the survey was first carried out. However, it also revealed some rather worrying trends that Svenska Spel is obligated to address as soon as possible.

The online casino industry was found to pose the greatest risk to Swedish gamblers with close to 30 percent of online casino players being reported to be having difficulties in curbing or controlling their gambling habits. This is indeed very worrying.

Patrik Hofbauer has acknowledged that there might not be a direct link between problem gambling and advertising but it was very likely that people whose gaming patterns resembled those of a problem gambler were being triggered by some of the adverts.