Swedish gambling regulator appeals against penalty reductions

The regulator will take the case to Sweden
The regulator will take the case to Sweden

The Swedish gambling regulator Spelinspektionen has lodged an appeal against a court’s decision to slash penalties issued against Genesis and AG Communications.

Sweden.- The gambling regulator Spelinspektionen has appealed against the decision of the Court of Appeal to reduce by more than half the penalties it had issued to Genesis Global and Aspire Global’s AG Communications.

Lodging an appeal with the Supreme Administrative Court, the regulator said that the court’s decision was of “decisive importance” to its power to issue appropriate penalties against gaming operators that breach regulations.

The fines in question were issued back in 2019 for breaches of operators’ obligation to connect to Sweden’s self-exclusion tool Spelpaus.

Genesis, which operates Casino Joy, Play.com and Sloty, initially received a warning and a penalty fee of SEK4m (€382,000). AG Communications, which operates Karamba and Mr Play, received a penalty fee of SEK3m. 

However, the Court of Appeal in Jönköping reduced both penalties to SEK1m (€95,500‬), less than half the original amount.

Spelinspektionen said: “The penalty fees decided by the Court of Appeal are too low in relation to the seriousness of the infringement and the companies’ turnover. In order for penalty fees to be dissuasive and proportionate, it is necessary to take the companies’ turnover into account when determining the size of the penalty fee.”

See also: Court slashes another fine issued by Swedish gambling regulator

Spelinspektionen bases the size of the penalties that it issues on the seriousness of the offence and operators’ annual turnover. However, both operators appealed against its initial punishments claiming that the infringements had not been serious and that the calculations of turnover had been unfair.

In an initial appeal, the Court of Appeal in Linköping ruled that there had been failures in self-exclusion practices but that turnover could not be used as a basis for penalties issued for offences that occurred so soon after Sweden’s regulated market launched.

It halved both penalty fees to SEK2m for Genesis and SEK1.5m for AG Communications. 

However, both operators lodged further appeals to the Jönköping Court of Appeal. The second court again decided that there had been deficiencies but that the regulator’s calculations were wrong.

While the court agreed that the offences were serious, it took issue with the way Spelinspektionen calculated the size of the penalty. While the court said the regulator may base penalties on turnover generally, it noted that these cases came very early after the Swedish market opened.

Meanwhile, the Administrative Court in Jönköping has rejected an appeal from Betway in a case involving a penalty issued for offering illegal bonuses in May 2019.

Betway received a SEK5m penalty fee for the breach for having used “recurring bonuses”. Sweden’s Gambling Act only allows operators to offer players one-time bonuses upon sign-up.

See also: Swedish gambling regulator agrees with expansion of penalty fees

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