Swedish court reduced penalties against Aspire Global and Genesis Global’s AG Communications after finding that regulator Spelinspektionen could not point the penalties on turnover offenses after the Swedish gambling market opened.
Both penalties were based on the self-exclusion programs Spelpaus, which points to operators that might be connected to both Aspire and Genesis performing manual checks.
Genesis receives a penalty fee of SEK 4 million and an official warning in March 2019, after many players who have been using their self-exclusion program inform the regulator that the program was not connected to Spelpaus for more than 33 days. The operator’s website also included Play.com, Casino Joy, and Sloty.
Aspire Global, which operates sites such as Mr. Play and Karamba, received a penalty fee of SEK 3 million after it had been disconnected for nine days.
The penalty fees were based on both the weightage of the offense involved and the annual turnover of the licensee that committed the offense.
However, both operators appealed to the Court of Appeal in Linköping. The court then cut off the penalty fee in half for both operators to SEK 2 million and SEK 1.5 million.
The court agreed with the regulators that both sites have serious defects in their self-exclusion programs and thus should pay the penalty fee. The court said considering the overall turnover, the decided size of the penalty was wrong; hence, the penalty fee was reduced.
The two operators have yet to appeal for re-ruling for the second time to the Court of Appeal in Jönköping.
Both operators claimed that the infringement was not serious, and hence only a warning should be applied. Each operator claimed that there was not enough proof of serious consequences of their failing to justify the size of the penalty but Spelinspektionen explained the fact that the players enrolled in the self-exclusion program were able to use their gambling feature is enough proof to charge the operator with the penalty.
The court said that the infringement was negative, however, the statement presented in court concludes, “In general, the administrative court finds that it has been shown that the company has breached its obligation to deny self-excluded players access to play in the manner that follows from relevant regulation.”
However, the court commented that Spelinspektionen was wrong in calculating the penalty charged for the two operators.
The regulators were supposed to calculate the penalty as per the operator’s general turnover. Still, in this case, the regulators considered the turnover for January and February of 2019 only and calculated the annual turnover from just two months’ figure.
Both operators claimed that this uneven calculation led to this inaccurate figure, also Spelinspektionen did not present enough figures to support his calculation. Hence the court lowered both penalties to SEK 1 million.
Two operators might again appeal the lowered penalty but now the appeal should be made in Sweden’s Supreme Court.