UK companies and casino sites fined by Swedish authorities
On the first of January 2019 Sweden finally got a licensing system in place for online gambling. The new regulatory framework saw more than 80 companies apply and get a license approved – but one might argue they might not have fully understood what they were getting into.
In a measure to combat problematic gambling habits the Swedish law takes a hard-line approach to one of the main means for gambling companies to engage their customers: bonuses. The law states that a bonus (defined very broadly) can only be given out once, and only the first time a player uses the gambling company’s services.
16 companies have been fined a total of 8.3 million GBP
Companies scrambled to find solutions to circumvent the rules in an initial battle for customers, but also in order to provoke authorities to make them further clarify what they meant by a ‘bonus’. Betway casino, for instance, decided to offer 10 weekly 100% deposit bonuses - emphasising that it was offered on the FIRST deposit every new week. On May 16 this resulted in Betway getting notified of a fine amounting to 5,000,000 SEK (around 425,000 GBP).
VIP Casinos getting hit hard
Other companies tried offering cashback bonuses, randomised bonus drops, and other perks but without luck. Skill on Net (a subsidiary to EGO), the company behind PlayOJO casino, got hit especially hard. Their very generous VIP casino club (OJO+) and reward system resulted in a 14,000,000 SEK (1,185,000 GBP) fine, the second largest so far, only topped by a brand belonging to the Betsson Group – NordicBet – which got slapped with a 19,000,000 (1,610,000 GBP) fine on the same day as Skill on Net.
Another case worth mentioning, but unrelated to bonuses and online casino, regards the British household name Betfair. They received notice of a 5,500,000 SEK (466,450 GBP) fine as late as the first of July. This fine was dished out for them taking bets on sporting events featuring minors, something the Swedish legislation also prohibits. Bet365 also got hit on the same day as Betfair and for the same reason, but almost twice as hard: 10,000,000 SEK (close to 850,000 GBP).
As of July first, somewhere around 8.3 million GBP (98,200,000 SEK) has been fined, spread over 16 companies. The Swedish equivalent of the Gambling Commission (Spelinspektionen) also found one company to be violating the laws to such an extent that their license got revoked, a company known as SafeEnt (unrelated to NetEnt).
Source: SverigeSpelar.se (in swedish)
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