Spelinspektionen hands Bet365 warning and penalty fee for offering underage match

| By Daniel O'Boyle
Bet365 operator Hillside Sports has received a warning and a SEK1m (£85,000/€98,000/$116,000) penalty fee from Swedish regulator Spelinspektionen after offering bets on a friendly match in which the majority of players were under 18.
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The case concerned a training match played on 28 March, 2020 between Kronängs IF and Mariedals IK, for which Bet365 offered odds. A review of the match by Spelinspektionen showed that 24 of the 34 participants were under 18.

Chapter 8 section 2.2 of the Swedish Gambling Act says that betting may not be offered on “occasions where the majority of participants are under 18 years of age”.

Hillside contested that offering odds on the match was permissible, as it was not a match specifically for underage players. It added that it took immediate corrective action to ensure odds would not be offered on similar matches, including stopping betting on lower-division friendlies. All bets on the match were declared void.

“The fact that a majority of the players then turned out to be under 18 years was an unfortunate coincidence that could have occurred in any senior league at any time and which could not be foreseen,” Bet365 argued.

It added that if it was in violation of the Gambling Act, a warning was the only suitable action, as the offer was only for a single match and was due to error. It added that the violation was serious and that therefore the action taken should amount to more than a warning.

However, it also pointed out that Hillside’s action to prevent further underage betting and the fact that this was a one-off event were mitigating factors.

However, Spelinspektionen said that the Act was clear in prohibiting betting on events where the majority of participants are underage, rather than referring to bets on underage competitions.

The operator also disputed the base used to determine the sum of any penalty applied. Spelinspektionen argued that the penalty should be based on total stakes from Sweden, which for Bet365 totalled SEK11.2m for 2019. The operator argued it should be based on its Swedish revenue, SEK683.9m, but this was rejected.

Considering the mitigating factors, Spelinspektionen opted to set the penalty fee at SEK1m.

The warning and penalty follow a similar SEK10m sanction handed down in June 2019, as part of action against eight operators, all for betting on underage matches. Hillside appealed this decision in the Administrative Court, and after its first appeal was dismissed, appealed it again in the Court of Appeals.

In related news, Spelinspektionen also appointed its board for 2021-22.

Fredrik Holmberg, Per Håkansson, Håkan Wall, Madelaine Tunudd, Andreas Prochazka and Doris Högne Rydheim will all remain on the board, with no new appointments. Håkansson will continue to serve as chairman.

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