Sweden’s Supreme Administrative Court to hear first igaming appeal case

| By Daniel O'Boyle
Sweden’s Supreme Administrative Court will hear an appeal of an online gambling sanction for the first time, granting an appeal in the case of a 2019 penalty fee against Genesis Global for self-exclusion violations.
black gavel

In March 2019, less than three months after Sweden’s online gambling market launched, a number of consumers that had used national self-exclusion scheme Spelpaus informed regulator Spelinspektionen that they were still able to gamble on its sites. The operator’s websites include Sloty, Play.com and Casino Joy.

As a result, the regulator handed Genesis a warning plus a SEK4m (£314,200/€376,100/$420,400) penalty fee. Like all penalties in Sweden, the SEK4m total was based on the operator’s turnover.

However, Genesis appealed this penalty to the Court of Appeal in Linköping. In December 2019, that court halved the penalty to SEK2m.

Genesis appealed further, however, to the Court of Appeal in Jönköping. This court then cut the penalty to SEK1m.

In lowering the penalties, both courts said Spelinspektionen was incorrect in the way that it calculated the size of the penalty.

The Court of Appeal in Jönköping said that while the regulator may base penalties on turnover generally, for this case it took the operator’s turnover for only January and February 2019 – the only two months of activity in the market at that point – and calculated annual turnover from these figures. 

The operator said this led to inaccurate figures and the courts said Spelinspektionen did not present evidence otherwise.

In response, both Genesis and Spelinspektionen appealed the SEK1m penalty to the Supreme Administrative Court, the highest court of administrative appeals in Sweden.

The court said that the appeal will consider both whether the violation itself was worthy of a warning and a penalty fee, as well as how the size of these fees should be determined.

Spelinspektionen said it was a “positive” development that its disciplinary rules will now be tried in the Supreme Adminsitrative Court.

Meanwhile, Spelinspektionen also responded to a SEK130m fine handed down from financial supervisory authority Finansinspektionen to payment provider Trustly over anti-money laundering (AML) failings. A Finansinspektionen investigation revealed that Trustly had failed to include a “large portion” of its customers in anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing measures, violating the Anti-Money Laundering Act.

“Spelinspektionen views Finansinspektionen’s supervision of the payment service intermediary Trustly Group positively and closely monitors the development of the payment service intermediaries that provide their services to gaming companies with a Swedish licence,” Spelinspektionen said.

“The Swedish Gaming Inspectorate will analyse the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority’s decision and see if there are parts of the decision that we should take into account in our continued development of guidance to the licensed gaming companies and in our own supervision.”

Spelinspektionen unit manager Robert Larsson added that payment providers like Trustly have extra responsibilities as they can see customers’ actions across a number of operators.

“It is generally important that such actors work risk-based and comply with the money laundering regulations,” he said. “Trustly has a special exposure to the gaming industry and through its unique overall perspective, the company can see its customers’ collective transactions to various gaming companies.”

The fine was announced just days after Trustly announced that it would lay off 120 employees as part of restructuring efforts. It did not detail how many of these layoffs would affect its gaming division.

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