Swedish regulator takes online casino to task

by Noah Taylor Last Updated
Swedish regulator takes online casino to task

Online gambling group Aspire Global said Tuesday that it would fight a lawsuit against one of its online casino brands by the Swedish Consumer Agency over alleged violations of Sweden’s Gambling Act.

Casino News Daily reports the Consumer Agency said this week that it intends to sue Aspire Global’s subsidiary AG Communications and its Karamba online casino operation over a bonus offer that practically “forces” players to wager sums way too large in order to be able to claim the promised bonus and free spins.

The agency addresses an ad by Karamba that promises gamblers a SEK2,000 bonus and 100 free spins.

However, the offer comes with unfriendly rollover terms – players must wager 35 times the promised bonus in a 21-day period in order to be entitled to said bonus.

In addition, they are given just a 24-hour window to use the 100 free spins.

Restrictions, terms and anti gambling messages missing from ad

In a statement explaining the reasoning behind its decision to sue the Karamba casino owner, the agency said that the online gaming operation’s ad featured information about the restriction and terms relating to the bonus offer in small print and that there was no evident information for customers.

The Karamba ad also did not feature a message that anyone aged under 18 is strictly prohibited from participating in gambling activities.

KO further pointed out that the advertising material did not contain a warning message that gambling can be highly addictive and did not include information about support services for problem gamblers.

Under Sweden’s new Gambling Act, gambling operators can only treat their customers to a one-time bonus offer upon the creation of a new account.

Local regulators have shown multiple times since the act acme into effect at the turn of the New Year that they watch closely for any violations of the bonus rules and that they are ready to punish any operator that breaches the law.

KO said in its statement that it believes Karamba has violated Sweden’s regulations regarding bonus offers.

Customer enticements unrealistic

According to Process Council at the Consumer Agency Par Magnusson, the online gaming operation “entices consumers to play with the help of lures that you will in reality never get to know without playing for huge amounts.”

The Swedish Consumer Agency further said that aside from the Gaming Act, Karamba has also violated Sweden’s Marketing Act, the gambling industry’s own guidelines as well as recommendations by the European Commission.

It intends to sue Aspire Global and its Karamba brand and to seek from court a clear definition of “how the requirement for moderate marketing should be interpreted in relation to bonus offers.”

Commenting on their looming legal battle, Aspire Global chief executive officer Tsachi Maimon said that they dispute the claim that their bonus offer contravened the requirement in the Gaming Act and that they “are critical of having been chosen as the subject to the agency’s enforcement.”

Mr Maimon added that Aspire Global will “object to the Agency’s interpretation of the law” if the matter indeed reaches court.

Aspire Global, through its AG Communications subsidiary, receive a licence from the Swedish Gambling Authority in December 2018.

Earlier this year, the Swedish gambling regulator slapped a SEK3 million fine on Karamba’s owner over failure to prevent self-excluded punters from gambling.

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