Swedish court lowers two bonus fines on appeal

| By contenteditor
Sweden’s Administrative Court of Linköping has lowered two fines levied by the country’s Gambling Inspectorate (Spelinspektionen) for violations of the country’s bonus regulations after operators appealed, while rejecting two other challenges.

Sweden’s Administrative Court of Linköping has lowered two fines levied by the country’s Gambling Inspectorate (Spelinspektionen) for violations of the country’s bonus regulations after operators appealed, while rejecting two other challenges.

Challenges by Betway and Genesis Global resulted in the penalties for each operator being restated, but reduced as a result of the companies having lower turnover, while appeals lodged by Aspire Global and Mandalorian Technologies were rejected.

The cases appear to set a precedent for deferred deposit bonuses, in which a financial reward is paid out in several instalments, and cashback promotions to be considered illegal offers under the Swedish Gaming Act.

The appeals concerned four fines imposed last year, with Betway and Mandalorian Technologies hit with fines of SEK5m (£426,000/€475,000/$539,000) and SEK9m respectively in May 2019, followed by Genesis Global and Aspire Global in June. Genesis was fined SEK1.7m, and Aspire SEK500,000.

In Betway’s case, the company was found to have offered recurring bonuses when players deposited funds, as well as weekly free games and recurring free spins.

While Spelinspektionen took this to be a violation of Chapter 14, Section 9 of the Gaming Act, Betway disputed this, arguing that the free games and spins did not constitute bonuses. The deposit bonuses, it added, were part of a single offer, but broken down into parts.

The court ultimately supported Spelinspektionen’s assessment, agreeing that intervention was necessary. However, it decided that the penalty should be reduced to SEK4.7m. The original fine was based on the operator’s turnover in the market, and with more recent data showing that this was lower than originally thought, a lower penalty was more proportionate.

In the case of Genesis Global, the operator challenged Spelinspektionen’s assessment that VIP programmes and deferred deposit bonuses constituted illegal bonuses. It said that while it did not believe it violated bonus rules, any penalty should be lower than SEK1.7m.

While the court agreed that Gensis’ violation was not serious, the company had shown no remorse for its actions, a penalty was justified. However, it again took into account lower than expected turnover for the business, and reduced the fine to SEK1.2m.

Two other appeals, for Mandalorian Technologies and Aspire Global, were rejected. Aspire was sanctioned for running a loyalty programme for players, which was viewed by the regulator as an illegal bonus, something supported by the Linköping Court, which said there was no reason to reduce the penalty.

Mandalorian, meanwhile, fell foul of Spelinspektionen for recurring cashback offers, but claimed that it was effectively being punished twice for one offence. The court, however, dismissed this argument, ruling that the penalty was entirely justified.

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