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Spooniker and ATG Slapped with Fines Over Deposit Gap by Swedish Regulator
On 12th December, Swedish gambling regulatory body, Spelinspektionen, announced that AB Trav och Galopp (ATG) and Spooniker Ltd, a subsidiary of Kindred Group, had breached player protection restrictions imposed temporarily after the pandemic hit. Failing to comply with the measures enforced just a few months ago saw the entertainment service providers slapped with fines. This deposit cap was expected to last for the remainder of the year but was later extended to June 2021.According to the regulator’s controversial new rules, Swedish online licensees are required to limit players’ weekly deposit limits to SEK5,000 for online casinos. Anything above this limit can only be used to bet on sports. For failing to implement this restriction, each provider now has to pay SEK1 million in fines. The fines will, however, be applied for each week that the operators failed to comply with the imposed restrictions. This will be calculated three weeks from the end of the week that the operators took part in the decision.
Controversial Deposit Cap Rules
The fine comes at the back of a protest from operators who cried foul regarding the enforcement of the rules. According to Spelinspektionen, the limit applies on a per licensee basis. That means a player with more than one account with multiple licensees can bypass the rule.
According to the regulator, players found a vulnerability in the deposit cap, which involved increasing the deposit limit for betting. After sending money to their gaming account, they would reduce the deposit cap to SEK5,000 per week or even lower. In essence, the player has gone past the prescribed limit at the particular licensee’s online platform.
In a quick rejoinder, both operators disputed the fine on grounds that the rules were not effected properly. This is something Spelinspektionen seemed to agree with way before the rules were enforced. According to the regulator, it was unsure of how operators would tweak their systems to fall in line with the government’s new directives. Furthermore, it went ahead to question how it would police these limits.
According to the regulator, there was no form of support that would back up the rules, which saw no one push for the implementation of the new regulations. In a joint statement that included dissenting voices from nine of the operators in Sweden, the operators asked the government to reconsider the “unrealistic directives”.
The operators defended their dissent saying that the proposed structure would see players resort to illegal offshore gaming sites. As a result, this would see unlicensed operators return to the scene. This then means that the government would be accelerating the return of unregulated gambling activities, contrary to its goal of protecting gamblers.
Operators also say that the directives on the new deposit cap only affected online casino players and not restraining the size of the deposit amount already in any account. In its defense, Spelinspektionen faulted operators for allowing players to deposit above the said limit as though they would use the bankroll for betting and later for online gaming. You can read more about regulatory authorities here.
Kindred Opposed to New Player Protection Measures, Sites Ineffectiveness
With the Swedish Ministry of Finance already locked on extending the ‘temporary’ limits, Kindred, toward the close of November, stated that the Covid-19 player protections went against the decision of the Swedish Parliament.
According to Kindred, there’s no evidence whatsoever that showed how players have benefited from the rules, seven months after the enforcement of the restrictions. The online gambling operator also added that the government has not shown how it will prevent online punters in Sweden from opting for unlicensed operators rather than licensed ones.