Four ComeOn Group gambling brands have received fines totaling SEK175m ($21m) from the gambling regulator in Sweden. Spelinspektionen handed out these penalties on Wednesday along with warnings regarding the licensees extending “unauthorized bonus offers.”
allegedly broke this rule by offering bonuses to existing customers
The Swedish Gaming Act states that gambling operators cannot offer bonuses to their customers “beyond the first occasion on which the player participates in a game.” Snabbare, Hajper, ComeOn Sweden, and Casinostugan are the four brands in question; they allegedly broke this rule by offering bonuses to existing customers on numerous occasions.
Spelinspektionen also believes that the licensees “breached their care of duty” by giving bonuses to vulnerable players. The gambling regulator deems these violations to be very serious and stated that the offenses can result in operators losing their licenses.
For now, the four operators will be able to keep their licenses after paying fines and adhering to the warning about committing similar offenses in the future. Each of the operators holds online betting and gaming licenses which are active in the region until December 31, 2025.
Breaking down the fines
Snabbare Ltd was the licensee to get the largest fine, having to pay SEK65m ($7.8m). Hajper Ltd received a SEK50m ($6m) penalty, while ComeOn Sweden Ltd has to pay SEK35m ($4.2m) and Casinostugan Ltd is facing a SEK25m ($3m) penalty.
With regards to the significant size of the fines, Spelinspektionen referred to the seriousness and duration of the violations. The turnover of the company in the previous financial year also was a factor in determining the fine amount. The penalty had to be at least SEK5,000 ($600.57) and a max of 10% of the operators’ annual turnover from the games they have a license to offer. The operators have the ability to appeal the decision.
A tricky environment
The regulated online gambling market first went live in January 2019. The authorities have been running a tight ship ever since, handing out numerous fines in the intervening period.
Spooniker, a Kindred Group subsidiary, received a SEK100m ($12m) fine last March for also offering unauthorized bonuses to customers. In November 2020, Sweden’s Patent and Market Court fined AG Communications SEK15m ($1.8m). The Aspire Global subsidiary received the fine for breaching advertising rules with one of its bonus offers for its Karamba casino platform.
Licensees in Sweden have been up in arms after tighter restrictions for online gambling came into place following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes included a weekly deposit cap of just SEK5,000 for people using online gambling sites, as well as new rules regarding session time limits. Despite the best efforts of licensees, these rules will remain in place for the foreseeable future. Operators fear that these tight restrictions will only drive people toward black market platforms.