Secretary-general for Swedish trade association Branscheforenigen för Onlinespel (BOS), Gustaf Hoffstedt, claims that the majority of the country’s leading banks have suspended their services for the Licensed casino operators.
As per BOS, all the major Nordic banks such as Swedbank, SEB, Handelsbanken, Nordea, Danske Bank, and DNB Nor have refused to provide services to license gambling operators under Swedish License this year.
Hoffstedt has filed a formal complaint to the Financial Supervisory Authority(Finansinspektionen), claiming that this is in violation of Swedish law.
The BOS Secretary-general stated, “Majority of these banks have not provided a reason for account closure.” He also adds that the majority of these banks have cited internal risk assessment or Sweden’s Anti Money Laundering Act as the conclusion of not providing services to licensed operators.
Hoffstedt claims, “As far as I am aware no concrete jurisdiction is provided for the dismissal, and bank’s assessments are not even provided.” He asserts that it is impossible for gambling operators to work in the industry without attaining banking services.
He pointed out that gambling companies are dependent on a basic banking infrastructure in the form of payment and financial services to peacefully conduct their business. Banking services help operators to store customer’s funds as well as receive money from the customers.
Suspension of banking services means now operators cannot use their user-id to verify the customer’s identity. Additionally, they have lost the major fact that helps them to fight fraudsters and maintain the trust of their customers.
Hoffstedt explains that without access to banking services companies will not be able to verify their customers and hence they have to look for other solutions. These solutions are not safe to preserve the user’s safety nor are they efficient.
Swedish banks also provide payment services especially to swedes punters and hence very important to gain their trust. Bank’s decision to prohibit services to gambling operators has worsened the working conditions for the iGaming licensees, and the decision is also in contradiction to norms of the Gambling Act of the country.
As per Hoffstedt banks have the contractual obligation to provide banking services to the country’s gambling licensees. Banks can only refuse to provide the services to the customers if they have a precise reason for doing so.
Banks can only withdraw their services if there are any activities indicating money laundering, misconduct from the customer’s end and if there is any violation of the agreement.
He said, “A large proportion of the BOS members have received a notice for termination of their banking service all concluding the general application to avoid the risk of money laundering in the business. It clearly seems that the reason for the dismissal seems a general party policy decision rather than a reasonable application of PTL.”
One of the banks mentioned by BOs in their complaint is SEB. However, the bank argued that it was a systematic ending of the relationship but a proper risk analysis for the customers.
SEB commented, “We always make an individual assessment of individual client relationships. When it comes to gambling operators, we generally have a cautious approach depending on the risk level, which is least connected to financial crimes, or money laundering.”