Betway loses appeal against Swedish fine for bonus breach

The Administrative Court in Linköping has upheld the Swedish regulator
The Administrative Court in Linköping has upheld the Swedish regulator

The operator was fined SEK100,000 (€9,800) for breaching Sweden’s rules on bonuses.

Sweden.- The online gambling operator Betway has lost its appeal against a SEK100,000 (€9,800) fine issued by Sweden’s gambling regulator for a breach of bonus rules. The Administrative Court in Linköping has upheld the regulator’s decision.

Spelinspektionen issued the fine in December after it received a complaint that on June 10 that Betway SE had offered part of its customer base a “200% match bonus offer”. Sweden’s Gaming Act, which came into force in January 2019, allows operators to offer welcome bonuses only. Subsequent bonuses cannot be offered to existing customers.

Betway SE recognised that it was at fault, blaming a “back-office error”. It said it has removed all bonus incentives from its back-office management system for Sweden in order to avoid any future mistakes. It said just 53 players were credited with the match bonus and that all of them had been contacted. “No player was financially negatively affected,” it said.

Spelinspektionen decided on a SEK100,000 fine rather than the maximum possible fine of a 10 per cent charge on registered turnover noting that Betway SE had taken steps to fix the error and that only a small number of players had been involved.

While the bonus was not actively marketed to customers, 52 took advantage over the promotion over the course of three hours.

Appealing against the fine, Betway said the penalty should be lowered. It claimed that the definition of a bonus is open to interpretation and noted that it had taken action to prevent a similar situation from happening again.

However, the Administrative Court ruled that the matched-deposit offer counted as a bonus and so there was no reason for the fine to be reduced. It said the fine was not disproportionate.

The court took a similar decision earlier this month when it upheld three fines in an appeal by online gaming operator ComeOn. In that case, however, it did decide to reduce the value of a fourth fine. ComeOn had received four fines from Spelinspektionen for breaching Sweden’s bonus rules.

Spelinspektionen had fined ComeOn’s Casinostugan SEK25m (€2.49m) fee, ComeOn Sweden SEK35m penalty fee, Hajper Ltd SEK50m and Snabbare Ltd SEK65m for offering bonuses to players who already had accounts.

Casinstugan had given a sample player SEK21,000 in bonuses along with free spins and ComeOn gave a sample player SEK40,000 in bonuses. Hajper gave one player SEK7,400 in bonuses plus free bets and another SEK13,500 and free spins. Snabbare, which received the largest fine, gave a customer SEK6,950 in bonuses and gave free spins to another.

The Administrative Court maintained three of the four fines at their original levels, only reducing that issued to Hajper. It reduced the fine from SEK50m to SEK40m.

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