Swedish Regulator Fines Spooniker and ATG Over Deposit Gap

Sweden’s regulator Spelinspektionen has ruled that Spooniker and ATG have breached the temporary player protection restrictions applied since the start of the pandemic. The decision says both online gambling regulators have failed to close a loophole allowing players to deposit money over the SEK5,000 online gaming limit.

Players Used a Loophole to Play With Full Amount

Sweden’s gambling authority Spelinspektionen has penalized Spooniker and ATG for breach of the country’s temporary Covid-19 restrictions. Entertainment services provider AB Trav och Galopp, as well as Kindred’s subsidiary Spooniker are obliged to pay a fine for failing to comply with Sweden’s temporary measures, which were enforced a few months ago due to the pandemic.

Each provider was fined SEK1 million over the controversial SEK5,000 deposit cap for online casinos, implemented because of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. The fine will be applied to each commenced week when the companies have failed to comply with the injunction, calculated three weeks from the end of the week in which AB Trav och Galopp and Spooniker take part in the decision.

As per the temporary regulation, players are allowed to deposit only SEK5,000 per week on commercial online games. The deposit cap was applied in July and was expected to last until the end of the year, but was later prolonged until June 2021 at the earliest.

Controversy Around the Temporary Provision

However, since the very beginning, the deposit cap sparked controversy regarding its enforcement, as Spelinspektionen said the limit only applied per licensee. Hence, this rule could be easily bypassed by a player, who has more than one account with various licensees.

Spelinspektionen’s statement said that players have been able to find a way around the SEK5,000 weekly deposit limit by increasing their deposit limit for betting and then, when the money has been sent to the gaming account, decreasing the deposit limit to SEK 5,000 per week or below. This way, customers have played above the required limit at the licensee’s online casino.

Both operators opposed the fine saying that the rules were not implemented properly. According to the gambling providers, the provisions concern deposit limits on online casino players, rather than restraints on the size of the deposits currently in an account. ATG argued that applied this way, the rule was contrary to the principle of legality. However, Spelinspektionen responded that the companies made it possible for players to first put in money above the limit as if they would use it for betting and then use this amount for online gaming.

Player Protection Measures Are Ineffective, Kindred Says

At the end of November, Kindred submitted its opinion on the memorandum on extending the Covid-19 player protections saying they were contradicting the ones decided by the Swedish Parliament. Kindred insisted that seven months following the implementation of the restrictions, there was no evidence for their beneficial effect on players. Moreover, the online gambling operator said that the government has failed to prevent Swedish gambling customers from choosing unlicensed operators instead of licensed ones.

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