Spelinspektionen calls for higher maximum money laundering fines

2 January 2020

Sweden’s gambling regulator, Spelinspektionen, has asked the Ministry of Finance to increase the maximum penalty that may be imposed upon a gambling operator in violation of the country’s Money Laundering Act from €1m (£847,686/$1.1m) to 10% of the business’s revenue.

Spelinspektionen argued that, given the turnover of some of the larger operators active in Sweden, the current maximum level is too low to dissuade many from breaking the Act. The regulator noted, in correspondence on 20 December, that the turnover of the ten largest licensed gaming companies had turnover between SEK 173m and SEK 3.5bn in the first three quarters of 2019, making a €1m fine “not sufficiently noticeable.”

The requested maximum, 10% of gaming revenue, would be the same as the maximum penalty imposed for violations of the Gaming Act.

“The gaming sector can be attractive for trying to launder money, for example through access to gaming accounts and that large sums of money can be traded very quickly,” Spelinspektionen said. “Therefore, it is important to create good incentives for the gaming companies to follow the Money Laundering Act, where tangible and dissuasive penalties for companies that do not follow the rules are an important part.”

In June, deficiencies including money laundering failings led Spelinspektionen to revoke the operating licence of Global Gaming, which operates the Ninja Casino and Spellandet.com igaming brands.

In October, the regulator unveiled a new system for licensed operators to report suspected money laundering and terrorist financing, which is set to open on 13 January.

Spelinspektionen’s fines for violations of the Gaming Act have proved to be a source of contention with operators with operator association Branscheforenigen för Onlinespel (BOS) saying that more clarity was required. It has also claimed that the focus on penalising failings by licensees was only benefitting illegal providers.

Spelinspektion, however, has argued that operators are simply “unaccustomed” to its enforcement approach.

In December, the regulator revealed that 20 of the 21 fines it issued since the re-regulation of the market had not been paid.