Swedish regulator fines four more for under-18 bets

22 August 2019

Another four Swedish sportsbook operators have received a warning and penalty fee from gambling regulator Spelinspektionen for offering betting on events in which the participants are under 18 years of age.

Cherry's ComeOn Sweden subsidiary was hit with a SEK9.5m (£810,000/€886,000/$983,000) fine, while its Snabbare brand was fined SEK6m, and Hajper, another ComeOn brand, SEK4.5m. Legolas.bet, meanwhile, was hit with a SEK100,000 penalty.

The size of the penalty issued to each was based on income, with each fine amounting to roughly 0.1% of revenue.

Between the four brands, bets were offered on a number of matches in which the majority of players were aged 18 or under. This included five U17 international football matches between January and May 2019, including two European U17 Championship matches, as well as one Swedish domestic U19 match in April. Legolas.bet also offered bets on an U17 volleyball match that took place in May.

The betting companies have since taken measures to prevent gambling on matches involving underage players in future, such as not offering odds on U19 and U21 events, even though such matches may include a majority of overage players.

Since Sweden’s re-regulated market opened on January 1, Spelinspektionen has strictly enforced the prohibition on offering odds on sporting events in which a majority of players are aged 18 or under.

In April, the regulator issued warnings to a number of operators that were found to have offered certain betting options on an Allsvenska football match featuring players under the age of 18.

Efforts were then ramped up in July, when it handed official warnings and penalties ranging from SEK700,000 and SEK10m to eight operators. Flutter Entertainment's Betfair, Bethard Group, Casinostugan, GVC's ElectraWorks, bet365 , Polar Limited, The Stars Group and Gaming Innovation Group's Zecure Gaming were all hit with fines. 

However this sparked an outcry from the operators affected, which argued that Spelinspektionen had not been clear about how it planned to enforce the prohibition on U18 betting, such as whether matches featuring any underage player were out of bounds. This prompted Gaming Innovation Group to temporarily suspend sports betting via its proprietary Rizk and Guts brands, aruging that this lack of clarity had put it in "an impossible position"

As a result, Swedish operator association Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS)  requested an urgent meeting with the regulator, seeking to clarify its stance on the matter. However Spelinspektionen does not appear to have granted BOS an audience, instead saying that it could be discussed at a licensee meeting scheduled for September.

Spelinspektionen is also under pressure from the Swedish Football Association (SvFF) to restrict betting on a lower-tier competition, the Division 2 Södra Svealand. The division is being dogged by claims of match-fixing, with the results of as many as 13 games thought to have been manipulated. However to date just Svenska Spel has stopped offering odds on the competition.