Two appeals to the Swedish Administrative Court launched by NGG Nordic and SkillOnNet have been rejected, with penalties imposed on the operators for violations of the country’s bonus ban upheld.
Issuing an update this morning, the Spelinspektionen, the Swedish Gambling Inspectorate, revealed that although upholding the sanctions the Administrative Court had made some minor changes to the Inspectorate’s decisions.
Notably, Spelinspektionen set the financial penalty imposed on NGG Nordic at SEK 14 million after completing an ‘overall assessment of all relevant circumstances’, with the company having offered ‘surprises every week, raffle cash prizes, travel and free spins, bonuses, rewards and free games for loyal players’ as part of its bonus offerings.
The Inspectorate had determined that the firm’s offers constituted ‘financial incentives’ under the definition of bonuses written into Sweden’s gaming law, and which were available via NGG Nordic for over four months after the provisions were passed into legislation.
Concluding that the company was operating in violation of the Gaming Act, the Inspectorate stated: “In summary, the campaigns provided by NGG Nordic Ltd were both illicit bonus offers and lotteries, and these lotteries are not covered by the company’s licence for commercial online gaming.”
NGG Nordic confirmed that it would now only offer its customers a welcome bonus the first time they placed a bet via its website, although the operator did appeal the decision to Sweden’s Administrative Court and Appeals Court – both of which rejected the plea.
Meanwhile, SkillOnNet was also fined SEK 14 million, after Spelinspektionen determined that the company – which provided slots, casino and jackpot games offerings from 2019 onwards under its operating licence – was violating the same Gaming Act terms as NGG Nordic.
Among other offers, SkillOnNet provided daily bonuses, monthly rewards, free spins, cashback and VIP packages – all of which were removed from the company’s website as of April 2019 following the Inspectorate’s investigation.
Additionally, the firm confirmed that it will only offer its customers a welcome bonus the first time a user gambles via one of its websites to ensure that the bonus is only paid out once per customer.
The Inspectorate remarked: “It appears from the investigation in the case that SkillOnNet Ltd has had recurring offers on, among other things, daily bonuses, monthly rewards, slots tournaments, free spins, cashback and VIP packages on their websites just over four months after the gaming law came into force.
“The Swedish Gaming Inspectorate’s assessment is that these offers constitute discounts and financial incentives and thus constitute bonuses. To be able to take part in the offers provided by the company required the player to be a customer of the company, had registered a gaming account with the company and that the player previously had played or played on any of the games provided by the company.”
As with NGG Nordic, SkillOnNet’s appeal to the Administrative Court and Appeals Court were both rejected – although unlike NGG, the igaming provider’s penalty was not amended – with the former institution finding its actions to have been in violation of the bonus ban.
Financial incentives such as casino bonuses are permitted for in much of Europe and are generally offered to new casino customers at UK casinos.