Swedish igaming operators complain after banking services suspended

BOS says that all major Nordic banks have suspended services to operators
BOS says that all major Nordic banks have suspended services to operators

Swedish igaming operators argue that the suspension of banking services by Nordic banks is unlawful.

Sweden.- The Swedish igaming trade association has made a complaint to the country’s financial services authority, claiming that all major Nordic banks had suspended services to operators.

Gustaf Hoffstedt, secretary-general of Branscheforenigen för Onlinespel (BOS), has complained to Finansinspektionen, arguing that banks including SEB, Swedbank, Nordea, Handelsbanken, DNB Nor and Danske Bank are violating Swedish law by suspending services to Sweden-licensed gambling operators.

BOS has called for Finansinspektionen to initiate a supervisory investigation of the banks and possibly intervene against them.

It said that most of the banks had cited Sweden’s Anti-Money Laundering Act and internal risk assessment for their decision to suspend services for Swedish igaming operators, but that some had given no reason. 

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Hoffstedt said: “As far as I’m aware, no concrete justification for the dismissals and banks’ assessments has been provided in any case. 

“Online gambling companies are dependent on basic financial infrastructure in the form of banking and payment services to conduct their business.

 “This requires [them] to be able to store customers’ funds as well as receive deposits and make payments to customers.”

He said the suspension of services also created more risk for players and companies because operators cannot verify players’ identities using the Bank-ID system, a tool that helped to fight fraud and money laundering.

“Without access to the Bank-ID system, online gambling companies need to use alternative solutions to identify their customers,” he said. “These solutions risk being neither as effective for companies nor as safe for users.”

Could the suspension of igaming operators’ banking services be illegal?

While BOS says the banks’ decisions go against the objectives of Sweden’s Gambling Act by reducing controls on money laundering, it argues that the suspension of services is also a violation of Swedish law. 

BOS’s complaint argues that banks have a contractual obligation to provide services unless there is a clear reason to break an agreement. 

Responding to some banks’ mention of the Anti-Money Laundering Act, BOS argues that the act only allows banks to suspend services at the customer level, not for an entire industry.

Hoffstedt said: “Given that a large proportion of BOS members also received notice or notice of termination from the banks – all with general and overarching references to the risk of money laundering in the business – it seems obvious that the basis for the dismissals is a general business policy decision rather than a valid application of PTL [the Anti-Money Laundering Act].”

See also: Swedish igaming association blasts Equality Commission report

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