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The Swedish Gambling Authority (SGA) has hit state-owned operator Svenska Spel with a SEK100m (€8.7m) fine for failings in its responsible gambling procedures.

The regulator has also issued a warning to Svenska Spel following an audit of the business to determine how well the company complies with its duty of care under Sweden’s Gambling Act.

The review took into account, among other things, how Svenska Spel handled the 10 customers who lost the most money during the regulator’s supervision period.

Audit details

The SGA’s review of Svenska Spel began in December 2021, with the regulator requesting details on the 10 customers who had lost the most money between October and December of that year.

Of the 10 players investigated by the SGA, all showed signs of excessive gambling, while nine were categorised by Svenska Spel as being of the highest risk level by the operator’s own standards.

For example, all 10 customers had high deposit limits and made large losses, nine out of 10 made large deposits and most made several deposits per day, played at night and played several times per week.

Further, two of the 10 customers had previous self-exclusions, while two had long log-in times and two saw their gambling activity increase over time.

“It may be considered indisputable that the customers, in the manner indicated, showed signs of excessive gambling during the reviewed period,” the SGA said. 

“In an overall assessment of each customer’s gambling, the Gambling Authority considers that all 10 customers’ gambling has been considered excessive during the period.”

Did Svenska Spel do enough?

Although multiple customers were found to have engaged in excessive gambling, the regulator clarified that its objective is to understand whether Svenska Spel took sufficient measures to protect those customers.

While many of the customers received safer gambling messages, the SGA considered this measure to be insufficient “because during the review period the customers continued to play while still showing signs of excessive gambling.”

As Svenska Spel claimed it is difficult to ascertain the effectiveness of such responsible gambling messaging – described as “nudges” for customers to play more safely – the SGA said that further measures are naturally required to ensure the operator’s ability to take sufficient action to prevent harm.

While Svenska Spel also introduced deposit limits for customers, these were also considered insufficient, with some limits set as high as SEK100,000 per day.

Other actions taken by the operator to try and prevent gambling-related harm, such as calls made to at-risk customers, were considered to have been introduced too late to be effective.

SGA conclusion

“The Gambling Authority considers that Svenska Spel Sport & Casino AB has not taken sufficient measures to protect the players against excessive gambling and helped them to reduce their gambling when there was reason to do so,” the SGA concluded.

The regulator therefore imposed the SEK100m penalty fee and issued an official warning to the operator.

In response, Svenska Spel said it “takes the work of countering gambling problems very seriously”.

The operator added: “Svenska Spel Sport & Casino AB is quickly adapting its gambling responsibility work to legal developments and new insights, and the company has reviewed its gambling responsibility process and its way of working against the background of what has gradually emerged in the Swedish Gambling Authority’s guidance and practice in the area.”

Svenska Spel response

“Since the 2021 supervisory period, Svenska Spel Sport & Casino has further developed gambling responsibility, including by checking the income of customers who want to set high gambling limits, as well as a more spot-proof selection for welfare calls,” said Svenska Spel Sport & Casino area manager and CEO Fredrik Wastenson (pictured) in a statement.

“Customers who cannot be reached for care calls are suspended until it can be ensured that they are in control of their gambling. Svenska Spel Sport & Casino has also introduced extra protection measures for young customers aged 18-19.

“When it comes to how the risk of gambling problems should be assessed, we start from an overall assessment of the customer’s behaviour which is based on evidence-based research, our own effect measurements, as well as current legislation.

“In its decision, the Swedish Gambling Authority makes a different assessment, which goes further than what can be deduced from the current regulations. We will now consider whether to appeal the decision.”

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