Penalties dished to Genesis Global and Aspire Global by Swedish gambling regulator Spelinspektionen for failing to comply with self-exclusion requirements were reduced by Sweden’s Court of Appeals.
Self-Exclusion Failings Can Be Costly
The Swedish gambling regulatory body sanctioned Genesis Global in March 2019 and Aspire Global in April the same year, SEK4 million ($480,000) and SEK3 million ($360,000) respectively, as both operators failed to integrate with the self-exclusion tool Spelpaus as per the new gaming law in the country effective January 1, 2019.
Genesis Global was sanctioned after some of its customers complained to the regulator that, following a self-exclusion, they were still able to play on websites of the company. Genesis, which runs Sloty, Play.com and Casino Joy among other brands, informed Spelinspektionen that it integrated with the Spelpaus service, but due to a third party failure the integration was not active for 33 days.
Aspire Global followed suit after its AG Communications brand failed to integrate with the self-exclusion tool for 9 days, a failure the company explained with a technical fault. The operator of Karamba and Mr.Play websites acted immediately upon the regulator’s warning to block all Swedish players, yet could not escape the regulator’s fine.
Following appeals from both operators, the administrative court sided with the regulator, which stated that both licensed operators did not adhere to the self-exclusion rules, and agreed they both should face penalty for the breach, confirming it was within the remit of Spelinspektionen to issue warnings and financial sanctions in both cases.
The court also agreed that sanctions should be calculated as a percentage of the gross turnover of each operator, but stated that the way turnover was calculated by Spelinspektionen was not right and inflated the result, hence ruled that both penalties should be reduced in line with the court’s findings.
Turning to the Court of Appeals
Dissatisfied with the slashed in half financial penalties, Genesis and Aspire appealed to Sweden’s Court of Appeals, arguing that the infringements were not that serious and should merit only a warning.
Further, there were no negative consequences by their failings to justify a financial penalty, they claimed, but according to Spelinspektionen, the mere fact that self-excluded players were able to play was a serious offence by itself.
The appeals court agreed the failings were serious and merited the sanctions, but stated that calculating the annual turnover based of January and February figures led to inaccurate results and further slashed both penalties to SEK1 million ($120,000) each.
Both Aspire and Genesis were sanctioned again by the regulator in June 2019 for offering recurring bonuses to players, but Genesis’ appeal led to the penalty being reduced, while Aspire Global’s appeal was rejected in court.