Error is blamed
The Swedish Gambling Authority fined an Aspire Global subsidiary nearly £250,000 ($323,700) for its failure to comply with the country’s self-exclusion requirements.
The regulator found that licensee AG Communications Limited had not joined its self-exclusion database, Spelpaus.se, according to an announcement from Spelinspektionen. This is the newest regulatory authority in Sweden, having taken over from Lotteriinspektionen January 1, 2019.
All licensed gaming operators in the country were required to join its self-exclusion scheme. However, as the announcement points out, self-excluded gamblers were able to access gambling products and services on 13 online gambling sites for which AG is licensed after the launch of the database.
According to the decision, an investigation began in early January to determine why AG Communications was unable to join the database. When it didn’t happen on January 1, the date was pushed back to January 23, with the idea of using a manual solution in the meantime. This meant that the company would have to import the list of excluded players every 10 minutes, in addition to turning off notifications for players from the list manually.
In a translated document, AG Communications is reported as saying that it was “extremely unlikely” that players would be able to play during this 10-minute window. It seems, though, that players were able to access gameplay.
A translated statement from AG Communications read:
“The company’s manual control that they used between January 1 to January 8, 2019, turned out to have a programming error that [meant] players who were suspended could play despite the manual control. The fault was that the company assumed [was that a] customer’s social security number had 10 digits and not 12 as the manual system was adapted for. The company states that 34 customers [that had] been suspended [were] able to play despite the company’s actions.”
As a result of the error, the subsidiary of Aspire Global received a warning and a fine of £247,000 ($320,000) from the Swedish Gambling Authority.
The regulator said: “An important part of the new gambling regulation is strong consumer protection and that the negative effects of gambling should be limited. The fact that licensed gaming companies have a functioning connection to Spelpaus.se is of the utmost importance to counteract social and economic damages and problem gambling. The Gaming Inspectorate will therefore continue to focus on supervision of this area.”
Aspire Global released a statement saying they had been notified by the gambling regulator of the decision following the delay to integrate with the database. It added that it shares the authority’s ambition for a healthy gaming behavior and that it “regrets the turn of events.”
Operators face fines
At the beginning of the year, Spelinspektionen showcased its tough stance about self-exclusion by issuing a letter to 66 operators that are licensed in the country.
In a January report, it noted that there was a threat of 10% of revenue penalties for those who failed to comply. It goes on to state that the letter mentioned that the regulator had received “many complaints and tips on deficiencies in gaming companies in several different areas.”
Not only that, but it appears that there isn’t much being done to promote Spelpaus.se on operators’ websites.