Bet365 and SGA in appeal stalemate over 2021 underage football betting fine

Operator giant had requested its fine be revoked in its entirety after previous reduction but judges retain SEK400,000 punishment to the disappointment of Swedish regulator
The post Bet365 and SGA in appeal stalemate over 2021 underage football betting fine first appeared on EGR Intel.  

Both bet365 and the Swedish Gaming Authority (SGA) have seen their respective appeals regarding a dispute from 2021 rejected by the Court of Appeal in Jönköping.

On 28 March 2020, bet365 offered betting on a football fixture between Kronängs IF and Mariedals IK where 24 of all 34 players named on the squad lists for the two teams were under 18 years of age. 

Under Swedish betting law, licensed sports betting operators are not permitted to offer betting on sporting events where the majority of participants are underage. In this particular match, 71% of the players were under 18 at the time. 

Despite bet365’s argument that it had no reason to suspect so many players would be under 18 given it was a contest between two ‘senior’ sides and later invalidated all bets while returning stakes to customers, the group was ordered to pay a penalty fee of SEK1m in March 2021.

Trading in Sweden as Hillside Media, bet365 appealed the decision to the administrative court in Linköping, which reduced the penalty to SEK400,000 in November 2021.

However, not content with that verdict, bet365 appealed again, as did the SGA, with the operator hoping for a further reduction in the penalty fee while the regulated aimed to get the lower figure increased to SEK700,000, closer to the original SEK1m penalty.

Instead, the Court of Appeal in Jönköping has stood firm and rejected both appeals to ensure the penalty fee remains at SEK400,000 (£29,582).

When determining the size of the fine, an operator’s turnover is taken into account, with fines beginning at a minimum of SEK5,000 and increasing to up to 10% of the group’s turnover in the preceding financial year as the maximum fine level.

The Court of Appeal said the punishment of SEK400,000 is “well-balanced” and noted bet365 had ceased offering marketing on all under-19, under-21, under-22 and under-23 games in Sweden.

Elsewhere, the Court of Appeal also issued verdicts on five different companies all owned by ComeOn Group, with the operator securing a victory against the regulator with two of the penalties reduced on appeal.

In February 2021, Casinostugan, ComeOn, Hajper, Snabbare and XC Gaming were handed a collective SEK175m fine for offering customers repeat bonuses.

Of the aforementioned brands, Snabbare was hit with the largest fine, totalling SEK65m. That figure was closely followed by Hajper, which was handed a fine of SEK50m.

More than three years on, both Snabbare and Hajper have had those penalty fines reduced following respective appeals. 

In the case of Snabbare, the ComeOn Group-owned brand had its penalty fee reduced significantly to SEK24m. The court ruled that figure to be in “proportion” with the violation, though Snabbare’s current economic conditions also played a part in the decision.

As mentioned, the maximum amount for a penalty fine equates to 10% of the group’s turnover in the immediately preceding financial year. In Snabbare’s case, that figure would have been SEK43.7m, which is SEK22.3m less than the original 2021 verdict.

When it comes to Hajper, the brand also saw a notable reduction in penalty amount, with the updated total now SEK14m for the same reasons as Snabbare. Factoring in Hajper’s turnover for full-year 2023, SEK23.2m is the most the penalty could have been.

Meanwhile, Casinostugan, ComeOn and XC Gaming all saw their respective appeals rejected by the court.

The settlements with bet365 and ComeOn Group come after the Court of Appeal reduced Kindred Group’s historic SEK100m fine to SEK30m this week.

The post Bet365 and SGA in appeal stalemate over 2021 underage football betting fine first appeared on EGR Intel.

 

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