Betsson’s SEK20m fine dismissed by Sweden’s Administrative Court

| By Conor Mulheir
Sweden’s Administrative Court has repealed a decision taken in June 2020 by the country’s gaming regulator, Spelinspektionen, to fine Betsson Nordic SEK20m (£1.7m/€2.0m/$2.4m).
Swedish channeling down from 2019

The fine was issued alongside a warning by the regulator last year, in relation to what it saw as breaches of Sweden’s Gambling Act, but was subsequently appealed by Betsson.

Spelinspektionen had determined that, by selling vouchers used to top up customers’ online gaming accounts, local convenience store chains Pressbyrån and 7-Eleven had acted as gaming agents on Betsson’s behalf without being registered as gaming agents, which is contrary to a provision in the Gambling Act.

The Administrative Court, however, determined that the situation was not covered by the Gambling Act’s provisions on gambling agents, as the sale of vouchers does not constitute the sale of gambling products, the receipt of bets or the mediation of winnings.

The court also found that Betsson has neither received payments from anyone other than a gaming service provider or received cash as payment for online games through the sale of the vouchers.

Betsson had also launched a payment card in March 2019, in collaboration with Mastercard, which it said would allow players to gain access to tickets to sporting events and other offers.

Spelinspektionen determined that this constituted the use of unauthorised bonuses, as operators are only allowed to offer a one-time bonus to customers upon sign-up.

The Administrative Court found that tickets and other such benefits would constitute the offering of an unauthorised bonus, but that Betsson’s statements did not constitute offers of such within the meaning of the law.

The court therefore came to the conclusion that Spelinspektionen had no basis for issuing a warning to Betsson and determining a penalty fee.

The Administrative Court’s ruling may still be appealed to the Administrative Court of Appeal in Jönköping, which has several ongoing cases regarding interpretations of Sweden’s gaming law.

Spelinspektionen has had a number of recent decisions overturned or changed upon appeal.

Earlier this month, the Court of Appeal has refused the regulator’s leave to appeal a case against Kindred subsidiary Spooniker concerning a loophole in the country’s temporary deposit cap.

Spelinspektionen had previously issued sanctions against Kindred due to a loophole that allowed players to deposit and play casino games with more than the maximum SEK5000 per month, by raising and lowering their deposit cap. The sanctions were then overturned on appeal, and although Spelinspektionen warned that the court’s interpretation risked making the deposit cap unenforceable, the regulator’s appeal was rejected.

Last month, the Court of Appeal in Jönköping reduced penalties against both Genesis Global and Aspire Global’s AG Communications, after determining that the regulator could not base penalties on turnover for offenses very soon after the Swedish regulated market opened.

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