SWEDISH COURT UPHOLDS REGULATORY RULINGS ON GAMBLING BONUSES
Swedish gambling regulator Spelinspektionen has successfully defended itself in four cases involving online gaming operators who were penalised for offering bonuses to consumers in breach of Swedish regulations, although two operators secured lower penalties through the appeals.
The Administrative Court of Linköping published its rulings Monday following appeals by AG Communications, Genesis Global, Betway and Mandalorian Technologies.
All four cases relate to the first few months of Sweden’s regulated iGaming market, which opened in January 2019, and the provision of bonuses to customers, which are limited to one bonus per customer upon sign-up.
AG Communications, which was accused of offering various VIP and loyalty programs to consumers, saw its appeal rejected after the court ruled that simply offering a bonus is enough to violate the law. The bonus does not have to be granted and used to qualify as a bonus, the court stated, with VIP programmes considered a form of bonus.
The court ruled that the company did offer bonuses beyond the permissible initial bonus and rejected the argument that the programmes were offered in error and not provided to consumers, thereby upholding the decision and SEK500,000 fine imposed by Spelinspektionen.
Mandalorian Technologies was also unsuccessful in its appeal against a SEK9.0m penalty for offering 10 per cent cashback on gambling spend to consumers.
The company had requested that the decision and penalty be revoked on the basis that cashback does not constitute a bonus, an argument which the court rejected.
Two other operators, Betway and Genesis Global, were able to reduce their penalties, although the court upheld the gambling regulator’s decisions leading to the penalties.
Betway’s penalty for offering recurring bonuses, free games and recurring free spins was lowered from SEK5.0m to SEK4.7m on appeal on the basis that the regulator miscalculated the company’s annual sales.
Betway argued that free games and spins do not constitute a bonus, and that the penalty for any breach should be based on net gaming revenue and not turnover, both of which the court rejected. The company also argued that its sales were lower than the figure used by the regulator to calculate the fine, which the court accepted, leading to the reduced penalty.
Genesis Global saw its penalty reduced on appeal from SEK1.7m to SEK1.2m, with the court upholding the regulator’s view that the company offered unauthorised VIP programmes and deposit bonuses. These included gifts such birthday presents for members of the VIP programme, which the court said constitutes a bonus.
All four decisions are open to appeal.
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