Swedish gaming regulator cancels Vivaro & Fair Play licenses

Sweden draft gambling legislation

Spelinspektionen, the body in-charge of regulating the Swedish gambling industry, has withdrawn the licenses of Fair Play Bets and the BetConstruct-owned Vivaro Gaming.

Announcing the decision, the regulator revealed that it had opted to revoke the permits it had awarded the two companies after they both failed to launch operations within a year of approval.

Fair Play Bets, an iGaming operator located and licensed in Malta, was approved by the Swedish Gambling Authority to run an online casino platform in the country on July 1, 2020. Vivaro secured its permit to offer online sports betting and internet casino games in the regulated Swedish market via its Ohmbet and Vbet brands on June 3, last year.

However, according to the regulator, the two companies recorded turnover of SEK0 during the first 12 months of receiving certification, which prompted the SGA to launch separate investigations into the licensees.

The Spelinspektionen reached the decision to rescind the two permits after concluding the reviews.

Companies fail to convince Swedish regulator

In its response to the SGA regarding the delayed launch, Vivaro Limited admitted that it had not commenced operations in the country yet, citing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as the main reason for the delay.

The operator further said that its business operations had been disrupted by the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, stating that about 50 of its employees had been called up to the Armenian army to fight at the height of the war. Vivaro Group LLC has its head offices in Yerevan, Armenia.

The company went on to state that it planned to ensure that its rollout in the Swedish gambling market was well-prepared since the industry is highly regulated. According to the operator, a hasty and poorly planned launch would only jeopardise its license.

Fair Play Bets, on the other hand, revealed that its investors had requested it to delay operations in order to conduct restructuring. The company went on to say that it was close to wrapping up negotiations with its investors, and that it had plans to launch in early 2022 or no later than mid next year.

However, the SGA did not find the responses provided by the two operators sufficient, hence the decision to revoke the licensees’ permits instead of warning them.

SGA publishes new AML guidelines for online operators

In other news, the Swedish Gambling Authority has published a document with guidelines aimed at helping online operators enforce anti money-laundering and anti terrorist-financing checks in compliance with regulatory requirements.

In a statement about the new guidelines, Spelinspektionen Chief Executive Camilla Rosenberg said that the regulator had issued the new guidelines in response to requests for clarity from operators.

“The gaming industry is a risk area for money laundering and we have seen a need for clarification and guidance in this area. This guide will lead to an increased understanding of what is expected of licensees in the Swedish market,” said Rosenberg.

In the document, the regulator notes that operators have an obligation to conduct risk assessment in their business operations and have internal procedures to detect and prevent money laundering and terrorist financing.

The guidelines require operators to review and update their AML and anti terrorist-financing procedures regularly, as well as equip their staff with adequate knowledge of these policies and practices.

The SGA further emphasised that licensees should use e-identification to verify the identity of online customers as part of Know-Your-Customer (KYC) procedures.

Regarding how to identify high-risk customers, the regulator said that players who deposit €2000 or less within a 12-month period can be considered as low risk. Consequently, customers who depict unusual gambling patterns, deposit unusually large amounts of money, and are unwilling to respond to KYC-related queries or provide documentation to prove the source of their funds should be considered as high risk.

In situations where players exhibit high-risk behaviour, the SGA recommends an exhaustive review of the player’s transactions by the licensee, but if the initial analysis does not clear the suspicions, then the operator must take further action and report the case to the Financial Police.

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