Sweden Fines Betway $520,000 for Bonus Abuse
Spelinspektionen, the Swedish gaming regulator, imposed a $520,000 fine on UK gaming site Betway for it bonus offers. The Swedish agency said Betway offered deposit and rebate bonuses to Swedes which violate the country’s new gambling law.
Unlike most European countries, Sweden does not allow licensed betting sites to offer bonus promotions beyond basic signup bonuses. Signup bonuses give a player free-play money if they create a new account at a gaming site.
Called a no-deposit bonus, signup bonuses do not match deposit funds, but instead give house money for signing up at a site. Sweden bans any sort of bonus tied to the deposit of funds, but Betway offered such enticements to Swedish gamblers.
Betway is a global online casino, poker, and sports betting operator. Betway serves customers throughout Europe, while it has separate Betway gaming portals in many African and Asian countries. While Betway does not accept US players, it offers a suite of gaming options for players in over 150 countries.
“Reduce the Negative Effects of Gambling”
Spelinspektionen released a statement on its reasons for such a high fine. The statement read: “The main purpose of the new gambling regulation, which came into force on January 1, 2019, is to strengthen consumer protection and reduce the negative effects of gambling.”
The $520k fine is huge for a first-time offender and serves as a warning to other operators. In fact, another fine handed down by Spelinspektionen dwarfs the Betway fine.
Mandalorian Technologies Fine
The Swedish regulator imposed a $940,000 fine on Mandalorian Technologies, because it also abused bonus promotions. Mandalorian Technologies, a 3-year old company, invented the Pay&Play gaming feature and the “No Account” casino experience.
Both features are innovative, which makes it harder for them to fit into a traditional regulated gaming environment. Mandalorian Technologies describes itself as an “user oriented company innovating within the igaming industry. It was founded in 2016 by a group of friends who wanted to create and build faster and smarter technologies, products and services to offer the industry.”
Mandalorian created Prank Casino and is working on “Brand X”, a mystery product launching sometime in 2019. The big question is whether a recent startup company can afford a $920,000 fine.
Swedish Definition of a Casino Bonus
Sweden defines an illegal welcome bonus as anything which provides a “discount” through the form of additional money for a customer. Thus, if a person makes a deposit and receives free-play cash for real money play, it is illegal in Sweden. Again, no-deposit bonuses remain legal.
Given the enormous fines assessed by Spelinspektionen against Betway and Mandalorian Technologies, the sanctions are a stark warning to the remaining licensed gaming operators. Do not expect to see other betting sites offering welcome bonus, casino insurance, rebates, bonus chips, or weekly bonuses anytime soon.
Blanket Ban on Swedish Gambling Ads?
Ardalan Shekarabi, the Swedish Minister for Public Administration, said that Sweden is considering a blanket ban on all gambling advertisements in the country. If Shekarabi’s ministry invoke a blanket ban, it would be one of several European countries to do so.
At the moment, that does not appear to be Sweden’s intention. The Minister for Public Administration sent a letter to all licensed operators letting them know about the huge fines it imposed on Betway and Mandalorian.
The message seems clear. If the licensed gaming sites do not break the current ban on gambling advertisements, the current law will stand. If operators continue to break the law, then they can expect six-figure or even seven-figure fines and a complete ban on gambling adverts.