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GAMBLING

Ladbrokes acquires Nordic partner Sponsio

Ladbrokes PLC has acquired Sponsio Ltd, its online betting and gaming partner in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland, in a deal worth up to 40 million sterling (565 million kronor).

The bookmaker said the acquisition is aimed at strengthening its position in the Nordic region, where per capita spending on gambling is among the highest in Europe.

Ladbrokes will pay an initial 36 million sterling to acquire Sponsio, with an additional 4 million sterling due if future growth targets are achieved.

It said the acquisition will be earnings enhancing in the first year of ownership.

Ladbrokes signed a partnership agreement with Sponsio in 2001 to expand its business in the Nordic countries, with the region now the biggest earner for Ladbrokes eGaming outside of the UK.

Following the acquisition, Douglas Roos, the managing director of Sponsio, will head up Ladbrokes Scandinavian division.

A spokesman for Ladbrokes said the company would be “ramping up” its presence in the Nordic markets after the deal.

He said the company aims to build betting shops across the region, but this could be a “few years down the track”.

GAMBLING

Gambling addicts ‘not getting enough help’

Swedish health authorities have criticised the lack of help available in Sweden for gambling addiction, with many municipalities providing no resources at all to deal with the problem.

Despite recent figures suggesting that nearly 200,000 people in Sweden have some kind of gambling problem the institute has slammed local authorities for not spending enough money dealing with the problem.

At least 50 municipalities provide no treatment at all for compulsive gamblers according to Sweden’s National Institute for Public Health (Folkhälsoinstitutet).

“It is very serious for those who are addicted to gambling and for those who live with problem gamblers, Marie Risbäck, coordinator of problem gambling issues at the Institute, told Sveriges Radio (SR).

Gambling problems are especially prevalent among young men, where it is estimated that one in ten between the ages of 18-24 have issues to some degree with over 17 billion kronor ($2.5 billion) wasted just on Svenska Spel, ATG and other ostensibly Swedish betting operations.

Three years ago a survey showed that some 40 municipalities provided no help to those with gambling problems, and the situation has just got worse since, with even fewer resources being made available.

The Public Health Institute believes that the government on a national and local level is not taking responsibility for doing anything about it.

It has therefore called for a state run action plan for the prevention of problem gambling, clearer rules on betting advertising, and an increase in care and treatment to all those in need.

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