Swedish Gambling Office Taken Aback by Operators Appealing Fines

Dec 09

This year has been a hectic for one for Sweden’s gambling regulatory body, the Spelinspektionen, as it has already handed down 18 fines to different operators for different violations.

However, of the 18, only one has since paid up with the rest appealing their fines.

The one and only operator to pay up was Aland-based PAF, which received the smallest fine this year. Paf decided to pay its SEK100,000 (or $10,505) fine in full after it was discovered that it was allowing gamblers to make bets on their site, despite signing a self-exclusion policy.

The other 17 licensees that have been fined this year are all putting up a strong challenge in court against the Swedish regulator. According to insiders that have knowledge of the situation, the online gambling violations in question — especially those that involve advertising — are too vague to hold up in a court of law.

The regulatory body has tacked on fines amounting to SEK120m (or $12.5m) and have already revoked the license of Global Gaming’s 555 Ninja brand since January. At the moment, there are 94 operators that hold active Swedish licenses and 67 for online operations.

The fight from operators has caused a lot of confusion in the industry with Director-General Camilla Rosenberg expressing she “was a little bit surprised that they think so much is unclear.” She added that the government does not share the industry’s opinion when it comes to the clearness of the new gambling rules.

Some of the operators that were given fines have already enjoyed success in the courts. They are challenging licenses being granted that are less than the five-year term they applied for.

For example, VideoSlots was previously given a two-year license after being fined by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) for gaps in their anti-money laundering and social responsibility controls in November 2018.

However, a court ruled that fines from overseas should not be taken into account by the Spelinspektionen and that the regulator “had not been consistent in its licensing.” The ruling stated that “several companies that have been granted five-year licenses [that] have been sentenced to pay fines abroad.”

CherryAB and LeoVegas have also received identical rulings.

Giving the green light on the appeal, it has been ruled that the license period for VideoSlots would now cover January 1, 2019, to December 31, 2023.

Spelinspektionen has stated that it does not have any plans to argue the said ruling.

Bet365, Betsson, AB Trav och Galopp, and Kindred Group have also had their penalties reversed after allowing betting on events that featured underage players.

So far, the largest penalty given this year was SEK19m (or $2m) to Betsson’s Nordic Gaming Group, after it was found to have repeatedly been offering players a single bonus for registering. In response, the Spelinspektionen said: “If there is uncertainty about parts of the legislation, we recommend that the companies choose the safe alternative and do not risk violating the law.”