In the ongoing saga of the newly-opened Swedish gambling market, not much is certain for anyone. Since the country’s online and legal barriers opened up in January of 2019, the regulatory body Spelinspektionen has been doling out fines left and right and center.
However, Swedish newspapers revealed earlier this month that only one of the 50 companies that have faced fines this year has actually paid up. That makes for a lousy successful punishment rate of just 2%.
The rest of the whipped companies have been challenging their fines in national courts or, as in the case of the Gaming Innovation Group and its Swedish sportsbooks on Rizk and Guts casinos, completely closing up shop in the country.
VideoSlots Wins Appeal
This week, UK-based operator VideoSlots became the latest to win its legal battle against Spelinspektionen.
The government body had only handed them an initial two-year license, as opposed to the five-year deal offered to most other casinos.
During their hearing at the Administrative Court in Linköping, VideoSlots’ lawyers pointed out that the UKGC had been entirely satisfied with the company’s actions after the fine—one which VideoSlots duly accepted after they failed to hold up adequate anti-money laundering policies that the Commission demands of its licensees.
VideoSlots’ responses to the fine included donating $1.1 million (in Euros) to the UK’s National Responsible Gambling initiative, as well as ‘taking proactive and timely action to fix any issues identified.’
The company was also vindicated in the court’s eyes by the evidence it provided that other operators who had received previous fines abroad had been granted a five-year license by the regulator.
The sole casino provider who has paid up their fine so far is Paf, a local operator from a Swedish-speaking area of Finland called the Aland Islands.
This can’t be good news for Spelinspektionen. Their 2019 saw the number of reported gamblers in Sweden fall by about 6% from the numbers in a similar survey taken just after the market opened last year.
Even the country’s most popular foreign operator Bet365, although way behind the massive state-sponsored Svenska Spel, has not been immune to the regulator’s wrath.
Back in October, they were one of several companies who successfully challenged a series of fines from the government body, for allegedly offering sportsbook bets on events where most of the participants were under 18.
In that particular case, Bet365 eventually had their $1.1 million dollar fine dropped. However, some leading figures in the industry, including Gaming Innovation Group CEO Robin Reed, feel the existing rules lack clarity. ‘They are too open to interpretation, leaving uncertainty around whether an operator is, in fact, compliant or not,’ he said in a statement last year.
Of course, to give all sides of the argument, Spelinspektionen director Camilla Rosenborg told the media that her organization ‘does not share the industry’s opinion’ on the alleged confusion.
Clearly, some operators agree with her views, as new Swedish licenses were granted just last week when Avento Ltd. joined the ranks of the 67 foreign casino owners already set up in the Nordic country.