Aspire Global fined over Swedish self-exclusion failures

23 April 2019

Swedish gambling regulator Spelinspektionen has fined Aspire Global SEK3m (£247,450/€285,630/$321,410) for failing to adhere to self-exclusion regulations in the country.

Licensed operators in Sweden are required to integrate with the Spelpaus.se self-exclusion system as part of regulations that came into effect on January 1 when the country’s regulated online gambling market went live. However since the market opened, Aspire's Sweden-facing subsidiary AG Communications has experienced a number of problems.

Spelinspektionen on January 7 contacted AG Communications about its failure to follow these rules and warned that it could revoke the operator’s licence if it did not take action.

AG Communications claimed that its failure to integrate was down to a technical fault, which it said at the time it expected to fix by January 23. It proceeded to block all access for Swedish players after receiving the regulatory warning.

However on January 15, AG Communications said it had succeeded in integrating with Spelpaus. At the time, the operator explained it had not been able to integrate with the system prior to the opening of the market and had instead been using a manual system to control access.

AG Communications said that a number of players had been able to bypass the manual control process and access its games, with 34 accounts suspended for doing so. After properly integrating with Spelpaus, AG Communications once again allowed Swedish players to gamble via its brands.

Despite completing the integration, some players on the self-exclusion list were still able to gain access to games. This was again blamed on a technical fault, with an error message displayed when the white label operator tried to see whether a player was registered via Spelpaus.

These problems persisted until February 8 when AG Communications was able to develop a solution that addressed the issue. This denies access when AG Communications receives an error message, with affected players required to update their personal information in order to gamble.

In its assessment, the regulator said AG Communications did not adhere to its strict regulations regarding self-exclusion. It added that despite efforts by the operator, it failed to properly address the issue until February 8, more than five weeks after integration should have been completed.

The regulator also criticised Aspire for continuing to allow players access to its sites, despite the ongoing issue of error messages when processing registrations.

Therefore, the regulator said AG Communications had allowed access to players who had self-excluded and that the operator did not fulfil its duties as a licensee.

However, Spelinspektionen accepted that AG Communications has taken action over the matter and conversed with the regulator during the process. Therefore, it opted against revoking the licence and instead issued the fine and an official warning.

AG Communications, which is yet to comment on the ruling, runs a range of white label brands including Karamba.com, hopa.com, mrplay.com, goliathcasino.com, spinson.com, magicred.com, toptally.com, barbadoscasino.com, lanadas.com, casinoluck.com, vikingslots.com, primeslots.com and slotjerry.com in Sweden.

Self-exclusion has been a persistent concern for Spelinspektionen since the launch of the market earlier this year. The regulator has issued a number of warnings to licensees to operate in line with these regulations or risk losing their operating permits.

Last month, Genesis Global and Paf Consulting, a subsidiary of the Åland Islands-based operator, were also fined after breaching regulations. Genesis was fined SEK4m and given an official warning, while Paf was also reprimanded and fined SEK100,000.

By the end of March, more than 30,000 people had signed up to Spelpaus.se.