Spelinspektionen, the Swedish gambling regulator has cleared four operators of any wrongdoing over allegations that they have been offering bets on sporting events where the majority of participants were under the age of 18.
Hillside, which operates the bet365 brand in Sweden, as well as Betsson, ATG and the Spooniker, who are owned by the Kindred Group have all had their cases dropped by the regulator.
Spelinspektionen have said that all of the operators which have been in question had been taking bets on the individual performances of under-18s in a football match, with bets such as goal scoring during the games. The regulator has then issued a number of warnings and penalty fees as part of the process.
Coming with these punishments, was SEK10m (£801,108/€926,058/$1.0m) penalty fee for Hillside, after the regulator said that it offered odds on five football matches in which the majority of players were aged 18 or under in July.
The Spelinspektionen has now backtracked on the rulings however, where they have said that following further investigation that none of the four operators have violated licence conditions as the featured players who were eligible for the bets in the games were, for the most part, over the age of 18.
Its not permitted for operators for licensed operators to offer odds on events where the majority of participants are under the age of 18, as this gives the impression that it increases the danger of minors being exposed to attempts to manipulate sporting results.
Spelinspektionen have added that it is currently working on regulations regarding bans and restrictions on betting in order to tackle match-fixing in professional sport. The regulator has also said that betting on the individual performance of under-18s will be taken into account when drafting these rules.
The regulator has also charged a host of other operators over activities which are similar to betting on under-18s. For example, The Star Group has been handed a penalty fee of SEK10m for offering odds on games majority of players were aged 18 or under on at least two occasions.
Flutter Entertainment’s Betfair International and ElectraWorks, who are the operator behind bwin.se, have been handed penalties of SEK5.5m. Betfair have been found guilty of one breach of regulations, and Electraworks of three breaches.
Casino and Zecure Gaming have both been given orders to pay SEK3.5m for similar breaches, while Bethard has also been issued with a penalty fee of SEK2.5m. CoolBet operator, Polar received a penalty of SEK700,000.
Cherry’s ComeOn Sweden subsidiary has been hit with a SEK9.5m penalty, while its Snabbare brand has then been handed a penalty of SEK6m, with Hajper, another ComeOn brand receiving a fine of SEK4.5m. Legolas.bet, meanwhile, was issued with a SEK100,000 penalty.
An outcry was caused in Sweden from these rulings, with the affected operators arguing that Spelinspektionen had not been clear about how it planned to enforce the prohibition on U18 betting. Following this, it caused Gaming Innovation Group to temporarily suspend sports betting via its proprietary Rizk and Guts brands, saying this lack of clarity had put it in “an impossible position”.
Swedish operator association Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS) also cane to hit out at the ruling through requesting an urgent meeting with the regulator, seeking to clarify its stance on the matter.