William Hill Vows to Fight After Swedish Bank Threatens Breakup With Gambling Industry

  • The operator has requested an injunction to stop the SEB bank from closing its accounts
  • The Swedish bank believes the gambling industry is breeding grounds for money laundering
  • The complaint argues that the ban breaks anti-competition regulations, among other violations
  • William Hill has reported a revenue decline as COVID-19 continues to hamper the gambling market
William Hill logo on smartphone
William Hill has filed a request for injunction following Swedish bank SEB’s proposal to withdraw its services for the gambling market. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Sportsbook company challenges SEB

William Hill isn’t happy with how the gambling industry is developing in Sweden and has vowed to take action. After the country’s Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB (SEB) bank recently stated that it would stop serving the gambling industry over money-laundering concerns, the UK-based company has joined other operators in launching a complaint to Swedish authorities. 

bank recently stated that it would stop serving the gambling industry over money-laundering concerns

William Hill, which operates the Mr Green brand in Sweden, sent a request to the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority (Finansinspektionen) for it to intervene in the ongoing dispute, according to an exclusive report by EGR. The bank is preparing to sever its relationship with gambling operators, including William Hill, and cancel all related corporate banking agreements. The decision was due to the bank’s belief that the gambling sector is “more susceptible” to money-laundering activity than conventional businesses. 

Operators could lose market position

Should William Hill and other operators have their banking agreements canceled, it would mean potentially massive losses for the companies as they are forced to find new ways to remain active. The move would block access to the BankID and Swish payment options.

William Hill’s request for an injunction hopes to prevent that from happening. The sportsbook company argues in its complaint that SEB is violating its contract according to the provisions stipulated in the Swedish Deposit Guarantee Act. That act requires any bank under the Finansinspektionen’s guidance, which includes SEB, to provide banking services once a contract is signed. 

William Hill also believes that SEB, as well as other banks, might be breaking anti-competition regulations in Sweden. It pointed out that certain operators have been informed that they face a loss of banking access; however, Sweden-based operators have not been included in the ban. The sports betting firm added that the decision by SEB and others might be a violation of Article 56 of the Treaty for the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

When other operators previously attempted to use these arguments to fight the ban, the Swedish Competitions Authority denied their claims.

William Hill finished 2020 in a slump

The battle isn’t going to help William Hill’s ability to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The company just released its latest financial report for last year, and the results aren’t good. 

2020 a “challenging but transformative year”

The full-year report saw a 91% year-on-year drop in pre-tax profits for 2020, amounting to just £9.1m ($12.68m). Net revenue declined 16%, closing at £1.3b ($181bn). Still, William Hill remains optimistic, calling 2020 a “challenging but transformative year” that has set the stage for new revenue opportunities. One of these is the online gaming segment, through which William Hill saw an increase in net revenue of 9% last year as it reached £802m ($1.11bn). 

William Hill is close to finalizing its $3.85bn takeover by US-headquartered casino operator Caesars Entertainment, following a shareholder vote in favor of the bid last November. The remaining regulatory approvals for the acquisition are expected during the second quarter of 2021.