GiG suspends sportsbook operations in Sweden

9 July 2019

Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) has suspended the sportsbooks on its proprietary Rizk and Guts brands in Sweden, arguing that a lack of clarity on the country's igaming regulations has put the business in "an impossible position".

GiG said it will honour any bets that Swedish customers have already placed via the sportsbooks, and also stated that the financial impact of the move will be immaterial to the operator.

It is looking to have national gambling regulator Spelinspektionen make clear how it intends to enforce certain elements of the country's gambling regulations. 

Its chief executive, Robin Reed, said the current rules for online sports betting “are too open to interpretation” and causing a level of uncertainty as to whether an operator is compliant or not.

GiG intends to reopen both of its sportsbooks in Sweden as soon as the necessary clarification is received. The sportsbooks will continue to operate in all other countries in which GiG is active and will not be impacted by the suspension, while B2B clients will also be unaffected.

“We find ourselves in an impossible position due to the lack of clarity in the Swedish gambling regulation,” GiG CEO Reed explained. “We have to protect the company and its shareholders from potential penalties from such vagueries.

“This action was taken because, ultimately, it is critically important for us to be compliant. So, we decided to temporarily suspend further bets until this can be clarified.

“We believe that the current rules for online sports betting are too open to interpretation, leaving uncertainty around whether an operator is in fact compliant or not. The recent fines issued by the Swedish regulator to GiG and multiple other peers demonstrate this overall uncertainty in the market.”

Reed also called on Spelinspektionen to suspend all other sportsbooks that are currently operating in the country until it clarifies the laws regarding sports betting in Sweden.

“We encourage the Spelinspektionen to amend the relevant rules so that they do not leave any room for misinterpretation and we would welcome the opportunity to collaborate on this,” Reed said.

“We have taken the lead on this and we also encourage the SGA to suspend all sportsbooks operating in Sweden until such clarification is provided.”

The decision to suspend all Swedish sportsbook operations comes after GIG’s Zecure Gaming Limited subsidiary was last week handed a financial penalty of SEK3.5m (£295,976/€329,140/$368,822) by Spelinspektionen after it was ruled to have breached sports betting laws.

Zecure, along with seven other licensed operators, were penalised for allowing betting on football matches featuring a majority of participants under the age of 18. Licensed operators are not permitted to offer odds on events where the majority of participants are under the age of 18, as this is seen to increase the danger of minors being exposed to attempts to manipulate sporting results.

GiG has since said that it intends to appeal against the decision, saying it does not agree with the assessment and conclusion, and is seeking clarification on the matter.

Flutter Entertainment's Betfair International, Bethard Group, Casinostugan, GVC's ElectraWorks Limited, bet365 operator Hillside (Sports) ENC, Polar Limited and The Stars Group Interactive have also been issued with penalties by the regulator.