The Swedish Gaming Authority, Spelinspektionen, said a few months ago that it was going to take a relaxed approach to online gaming, but it still expects operators to follow certain rules. Notably, adherence to anti-money-laundering procedures is a must and the regulator is going after a trio of companies, including Kindred, for not complying.
Spelinspektionen has given Spooniker LTD, a Kindred company, a fine of SEK10.9 million (US$1.04 million) for AML shortcomings. It’s another recent headache for the gaming giant, which also potentially faces an eight-digit fine in Norway.
Kindred acknowledged its failures in a press release. It added that it has already taken steps to improve its operations, but that it is considering appealing the fine.
On November 2, 2021, Spelinspektionen began supervision of Spooniker to check how the company complies with certain requirements in the Act on Measures Against Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism (the Money Laundering Act). The authority determined that Spooniker violated several points.
In addition to not properly complying with basic AML policies, Spooniker, which operates bingo.se, Unibet.se and others, failed to uphold Sweden’s Extended Due Diligence procedures. These include not ensuring high-risk customers provide proof to show their financial ability to gamble.
As a result, the regulator hit it with the large fine. However, Kindred emphasized that it had already taken steps to improve its operations before Spelinspektionen acted.
Going forward, Spooniker’s high-risk customers will have to be tracked more efficiently and the company will have to conduct deeper risk assessments on certain customers. This includes complete spending and solvency reviews, as well as scrutiny of the types of payments the customers use.
Spooniker is already fulfilling the obligations, and has also begun to provide risk assessments of more customers. It is also providing more suspicious transactions (STR) to the financial police, facilitated by a larger AML team.
Two other brands have also received warnings and penalty fees for AML failings. ATG received a fine of SEK6 million (US$572,400) and Pinbet received one for SEK2 million (US$190,600).
This isn’t the first time that Kindred’s Spooniker brand ran into trouble in Sweden. In 2020, following a review the previous year, Spelinspektionen fined it SEK100 million (US$9.5 million) for offering bonuses and products for which it didn’t have a license.
Kindred appealed that fine, as well. It argued that the ancillary offerings were nothing more than in-game mechanics that didn’t constitute standalone gaming options. It won, with an administrative court giving it a break last year.
The court acknowledged that Kindred violated Sweden’s gaming rules, but determined that the amount of the fine wasn’t justified. As a result, the company had to pay a fine of SEK50 million (US$4.77 million), half the original amount.
Kindred, which just held its Sustainable Gambling Conference in Sweden last week, found full relief in another dispute with Swedish authorities. An appeals court ruled last December that the company didn’t break the country’s COVID-19-induced deposit limit, which could have cost it millions of dollars, as well.
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