Swedish regulator Spelinspektionen is notorious for coming down exceptionally hard on operators who dare err on the wrong side of the country’s gambling laws. Now, the iGaming regulator has declared the four major operators previously accused of having offered wagers on games and matches populated by under-age sportsmen- and women, innocent of all charges and essentially in the clear.
The four sports betting operators to have been dumped into sudden trade uncertainty earlier on are bet365 (operated by Swedish entity Hillside), ATG, Spooniker and the well-known Betsson. The operators were declared in the clear by the regulator following the favourable outcome of an investigation undertaken by a Spelinspektionen-mandated task force specialising in rogue operator investigations. The national gambling regulator had earlier on announced temporary suspensions on all trade activities aimed at Swedish gamblers and bettors by the four affected bookies after having engaged in licence proceedings. The proceedings were engaged following complaints regarding the sports events in question and specifically the fact that the operators had offered wagers on events featuring minors. The age of majority in Sweden is 18 years of age.
Regulator Reconsiders Ruling
Spelinspektionen has however now officially announced that would not be pursuing the investigations and subsequent punishment and penalties any further after the investigation proved all four operators to have been unaware of the fact that a small number of the athletes / players who had participated in the events in question had in fact to yet reached the age of majority. The majority of the players were however over the age of majority (18) and in this particular case, exceptional circumstances were found to have applied.
Spelinspektionen has furthermore declared its having overturned the previously imposed fines and penalties, as the named operators have now been cleared of all liability in respect of the charges and allegations to have initially led to the investigation.
Court Has Had Its Say
As mentioned earlier on, Spelinspektionen has gained the reputation of acting and naming and shaming first and investigating the facts at hand only later on. It also has a particular tendency towards extremely hefty fines, with the one imposed on Hillside; totalling SEK 10 million; being a textbook example.
Sweden’s Administrative Court has on more than one occasion in recent times had to step in and call halt on licence revocations and all manners of diverse punishments because of the regulator’s habit of engaging in extreme penalty proceedings.
The Events In Question
Sweden’s Linkoping-based Administrative Court quite recently ordered the regulator to “tone it down” so to speak, and ordered a significantly large SEK 8 million fine imposed on Casino Cosmopol to be cut down to a decidedly lesser SEK 3 million.
The court found the regulator to have been too harsh in its analysis of the situation. Spelinspektionen had imposed the giant fine after it had (in its opinion) found the casino to have been guilty of having “lacked in its efforts to combat money laundering and terrorist financing in all audited areas”.
Unlike Spelinspektionen, the court took into account all of the facts relevant to the finding and investigations, and eventually ruled that oversight had been the operator’s sole crime, and not absolute intent, as previously claimed by the national gambling regulator. The regulator has in the meantime said that it will not be deterred from protecting Swedish citizens from the whiles of rogue and predatory casino operators and bookies.
Credit must however be awarded when it becomes due and it must be said that the regulator has been steadfast in its resolve to serve and protect the nation and that this has been true ever since the country first opened the doors of its market to outside operators and bookmakers