Hacksaw Gaming and Panda Bluemoon handed penalty fees in Sweden

Hacksaw Gaming must pay a penalty fee of SEK2.6m (£192,741/€226,351/$246,236) for the regulatory breach. Panda Bluemoon is being ordered to pay SEK700,000 for a similar breach in Sweden.

In the case of Hacksaw, Spelinspektionen in January identified it was providing content to two unlicensed, unnamed gambling sites. This was despite the regulator issuing a reminder to providers of their responsibilities in October 2023.

Responding to the case, Hacksaw says it has measures in place to stop access to its games in Sweden. This includes geo-blocking whereby when users try to play its games via a prohibited site, they should be met with a message saying that cannot play in Sweden. 

Hacksaw also argued developers cannot be held responsible for their games being playable in regions where the operator in question is not licensed. It added it does not intentionally develop games to target Sweden without the right licence.

As such, it concludes the actual operators that offer its games should be held to account.

However, in its assessment, Spelinspektionen said as the games were playable in Sweden, this shows the measures that Hacksaw has in place are “inadequate”. The regulator also disagreed with the argument that operators should be held responsible for such breaches.

“It is the person who has the licence who is responsible for ensuring that gaming software is not provided to players without the necessary licence, regardless of whether an agreement has been signed with another party,” Spelinspektionen said.

Spelinspektionen acknowledged Hacksaw has made changes to prevent similar issues in the future. However, it concluded the breach warrants a penalty and warning.

Similar charges for Panda Bluemoon

In the case of Panda Bluemoon, the charges set out by Spelinspektionen are similar. Like Hacksaw, Panda Bluemoon was contacted in January for providing games to two unlicensed sites.

Panda Bluemoon held a similar defence, saying users who try to play its games through an unauthorised site are met with warning messages. The developer also said the operators in question were offering the games without its permission.

Like Hacksaw, Panda Bluemoon said it has taken measures to prevent similar breaches in the future. It also said a warning or penalty would be “disproportionate” to the breach.

However, Spelinspektionen put forward a similar assessment to the Hacksaw case, saying it is the responsibility of developers as to where their games are available. It also hit out at how Panda Bluemoon’s measures to prevent unauthorised play are “inadequate”.

“The fact that players from Sweden receive the message ‘the game is not available from your region’ does not change that assessment,” the regulator said. “It is the licensee who is responsible for the game software not being provided to players without the necessary licence.”

As such, Spelinspektionen said that Panda Bluemoon should face a SEK700,000 penalty and official warning. 

Zimpler given reprieve over Sweden dispute

In other news, the Administrative Court has annulled a Spelinspektionen injunction against Zimpler.

The case dates to July 2023 when Spelinspektionen warned Zimpler it faces a hefty fine if it fails to stop working with offshore brands. This fine, the regulator said, could be as high as SEK25.0m if it does not comply.

In an injunction ruling, Spelinspektionen said it is taking action due to Zimpler using BankID for transactions with unlicensed sites. BankID is an e-identification service only used by Swedish customers.

Zimpler hit back shortly after, filing an appeal over the case. Zimpler argued it made clear its intention to end business relationships with the operators, with this announced a month before the Spelinspektionen warning.

While Zimpler said ending the business relationships would satisfy the regulator’s demands, it chose to proceed with a formal appeal.

This has now proved successful, with the administrative court considering the regulator lacked grounds for issuing the injunction. As such, the original decision has been revoked.

The judgment may be appealed to the Court of Appeal in Jönköping.

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