Swedish Gambling Watchdog Strikes Again With $3.62m Fine to Mr Green

  • The fines were for responsible gambling and anti-money laundering failures
  • Spelinspektionen has not been shy about handing out hefty fines to errant operators
  • The biggest fine to date was SEK100m ($11.5m) for the Kindred Group-owned Spooniker Ltd.
  • SEK30m ($3.44m) of Mr Green’s fine related to its responsible gambling failures
Person pulling Swedish cash out of a wallet
Mr Green Limited has received fines totaling SEK31.5m ($3.62m) from the Swedish gambling regulator for responsible gambling and anti-money laundering violations. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Two offenses

Spelinspektionen, the Swedish gambling regulator, has issued fines totaling SEK31.5m ($3.62m) and warnings to Mr Green Limited for responsible gambling and anti-money laundering failures. These offenses date back to the operator’s actions during the early days of the Swedish regulated gambling market in 2019.

Mr Green Limited is an online gambling company that began in 2007 and has its headquarters in Malta. It offers online casino, sports betting, live casino, bingo, and keno products. The William Hill-owned operator is regulated by the Malta Gaming Authority and holds local licenses in jurisdictions such as Sweden and the UK.

The regulatory agency announced the penalties on Wednesday for these “serious” offenses. As per the country’s Money Laundering Act, a compliance breach can lead to a fine of up to €1m ($1.17m). Gambling legislation allows for a much larger fine, using the company’s turnover as a basis for the calculation.

The five heaviest penalties so far

Spelinspektionen has been very active in making sure that licensees are acting in a fully above-board manner. It has not been shy about issuing warnings and handing out fines to operators that are in breach of the rules.

gamblers can only receive one bonus offer per registration at an online gambling site

Many of the hefty fines relate to operators offering illegal bonuses to their players. As per Swedish law, gamblers can only receive one bonus offer per registration at an online gambling site. Here is a look at five of the heaviest penalties Spelinspektionen has handed out in recent years, in ascending order:

5. Mr Green Limited – SEK31.5m ($3.62m)

Conveniently, Mr Green Limited is not just the latest gambling operator in Sweden to get a major fine from Spelinspektionen, but it also makes the top five. It was in breach of responsible gambling and anti-money laundering rules and regulations, which we will discuss more later.

4. ComeOn Sweden Ltd – SEK35m ($4m)

ComeOn Sweden was found to have deposited SEK40,000 ($4,592) in bonus funds into a player’s account, which was in breach of the country’s rules for bonus offers.

3. Hajper Ltd – SEK50m ($5.74m)

The ComeOn brand was found to have given illegal bonus funds and free bets to a player, while another user got illegal free spins.

2. Snabbare Ltd – SEK65m ($7.46m)

Snabbare was one of four ComeOn brands that was hit with fines totaling SEK175m ($20.1m) earlier this year. Each of the operators got its own individual fines related to the nature of their violations and their turnover. Snabbare received the largest fine of these operators for offering illegal free spins and bonus funds to certain players.

1. Spooniker Ltd – SEK100m ($11.5m)

This Kindred Group-owned brand initially received a SEK100m ($11.5m) fine from Spelinspektionen in March 2020 for allegedly offering illegal bonuses to players. Following an appeal, Spooniker managed to get the fine halved to SEK50m ($5.74m).

Specifics of the Mr Green case

Mr Green will now consider whether it should appeal its fines or not. The Money Laundering Act is in place to make sure that gambling platforms are not being used for terrorism financing or money laundering purposes. Therefore, operators are responsible for properly verifying customers and making sure that everything is above board. Mr Green Limited was deemed to have failed in its responsibilities regarding customer knowledge and did not have adequate measures in place to properly assess the business’s risk of being a vehicle for money laundering. This led to a penalty of SEK1.5m ($172,186).

In terms of the second offense, the Gambling Act outlines the duty of care on operators to protect people from excessive gambling. As part of its responsibilities, a gambling operator has to provide feedback on the playing behavior of users and apply restrictions when necessary.

Spelinspektionen has deemed that Mr Green Limited did not have sufficient measures in place to help its players reduce their gambling when there was a need to do so. This led to a warning and a fine of SEK30m ($3.44m).

This is not the first significant financial penalty that Mr Green has received in the last couple years. In February 2020, it was fined £3m ($4.1m) by the UK Gambling Commission for its failures to properly protect gambling addicts.

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