Spelinspektionen hands Bet365 a warning and fine for offering a match to minors

Operator Bet365 Hillside Sports has received a warning and a fine of SEK1m (£85,000 / €98,000 / $116,000) from Swedish regulator Spelinspektionen after offering betting on a friendly match in which most players were under 18.

The case concerned a practice match played on 28 March 2020 between Kronängs IF and Mariedals IK, on which Bet365 offered odds. A review of the Spelinspektionen match revealed that 24 of the 34 participants were under 18 years of age.

Section 2.2 of Chapter 8 of the Swedish Gambling Act states that bets cannot be offered "where a majority of participants are under 18".

Hillside argued that offering odds on the match was permissible because it was not a match specifically for underage players. He added that corrective action was immediately taken to ensure that odds were not offered on similar matches, including stopping betting on lower division friendlies. All bets on the match have been invalidated.

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"The fact that most of the players were under 18 at the time was an unfortunate coincidence that could have happened in any major league at any time and could not have been foreseen," Bet365 claimed.

He added that, as in the case of the no deposit casino known as casino utan insättningskrav, that if it was a violation of the Gambling Act, a warning was the only appropriate action, as the offer was for one match only and was caused by error. He added that the breach was serious and therefore the action taken should be more than a warning.

However, he also pointed out that Hillside's actions to prevent further underage betting and the fact that it was a one-off event were mitigating factors.

Nevertheless, Spelinspektionen stated that the Act clearly prohibited betting on events in which the majority of participants were minors, rather than referring to betting on underage competitions.

The operator also challenged the basis used to determine the amount of any penalty imposed. Spelinspektionen argued that the fine should be based on Sweden's total bets, which for Bet365 amounted to SEK 11.2 million for 2019. The operator argued that this should be based on its revenue in Sweden, SEK 683.9m, but this was rejected.

Given the mitigating factors, Spelinspektionen decided to impose a fine of SEK 1 million.

The warning and penalty followed a similar sanction of SEK 10 million imposed in June 2019 as part of measures against eight operators, all of which involved betting on underage matches. Hillside appealed the decision to the Administrative Court and, after the first appeal was rejected, appealed again to the Court of Appeal.

Incidentally, Spelinspektionen has also appointed a board of directors for 2021-2022.

Fredrik Holmberg, Per Håkansson, Håkan Wall, Madeleine Tunud, Andreas Prohazka and Doris Högne Ridheim will remain on the board without new appointments. Håkansson will continue to serve as chairman.