Swedish regulator fines bet365 and GVC Holdings

UK firms are among those that are fined by the Swedish regulator for offering betting markets on under-18 sporting events.

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Swedish regulator fines bet365 and GVC Holdings © Pixabay.

Bet365 and GVC Holdings have been fined for offering sports betting on fixtures involving under-18-year-old players. Six other companies, The Stars Group, Flutter Entertainment, Gaming Innovation Group (GiG), Bethard Group, Casinostugan Limited and Polar limited also received fines from the Swedish Gambling Authority (SGA).

Sweden prohibits betting on sports on which the majority of players are under the age of 18, and the SGA have fined the 8 companies a total of £3.51m (€3.9m).

It is believed it was the Swedish Football Association who raised the concern with the SGA after discovering first goal scorer and a player to score two or more goals markets were offered in the Swedish Premier League fixture between AIK and IFK Gothenburg in April this year. Because of the FA’s complaint, the regulator launched what it called a “special supervision investigation” into the claims, and the fines are a result of that investigation.

Bet365, alongside The Stars Group, received the highest fine of all the bookmakers with fines totalling 10,000,000 SEK (£84,952). The penalty was more substantial for bet365 as the regulator found that they had offered markets for four additional games between April and May, these games involved Swedish Premier League teams Throttur SR, Leiknur KB, Vasalunds IF.

The enforcement against the operators was welcomed by the Swedish Minister for Civil Affairs, Ardalan Sherakabi. Who was critical of the companies involved and urged bookmakers to take responsibility for the markets they offer. This sentiment was shared by the Swedish Football Association secretary-general Håkan Sjöstrand. Sjöstrand said he believed that self-regulation by operators “does not work”. He went on to say:

“The risk is so clear, and it is difficult to find a waterproof regulatory framework against the cheaters, but it is not an argument for not doing anything.” Håkan Sjöstrand, FA secretary-general.

Sjöstrand said he was concerned that the 18 cases that the regulator took action on was due to random checks and the Swedish Gambling Authority didn’t have the manpower or resources to check every single game.

The SGA has said that since their review, the companies who have been fined have introduced measures to ensure this action is not repeated, and robust processes have been added, including the prohibition of offering bets on under-19 and under-21 games.

However, not everyone is happy with the regulator. Swedish trade association BOS wrote to SGA board requesting an “urgent meeting” to establish clarity.

The association said it was “surprised and frustrated” to learn about the decision to fine members without prior warning. BOS claim that once the SGA notified the betting companies about the breach, companies including bet365 and GVC immediately stopped offering these markets but these measures “appear to have unfortunately had little impact”.

BOS secretary-general Gustaf Hoffstedt said his members were “very concerned” about the regulatory regime in Sweden and believed it was possible that more monetary penalties could be enforced on members of BOS in the future.

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