Swedish Court Sides With Betsson in Gambling Addict Suit

A Swedish court has sided with Betsson in a lawsuit in which the plaintiff accused the company of profiting from his gambling addiction and employing aggressive marketing tactics. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Court denies compensation

Betsson has won a case in the Swedish Patent and Market Court in which the gambling operator stood accused of exploiting addiction for financial gain. The case revolved around a lawsuit filed by an unnamed customer of Betsson subsidiary BML Group.

The plaintiff played online casino games through BML between 2009 and 2014. He deposited €700,000 ($834,152) in that time, allegedly generating €15m ($17.9m) in turnover for the gambling company as a result. The now 54-year-old closed his account in 2014, and later received a gambling addiction diagnosis.

sought SEK 153m ($18m) in compensation.

The lawsuit accused Betsson and BML of exploiting the player’s gambling addiction. It also suggested that the gambling operator profited from illegal gambling and employed aggressive marketing tactics which amounted to harassment. The plaintiff sought SEK 153m ($18m) in compensation.

The Swedish court has now ruled in favor of Betsson and ordered the plaintiff to compensate BML’s legal fees.

Betsson’s winning defence

In response to the unnamed plaintiff’s claims, Betsson argued that its turnover was equal to the original deposit amount of €700,000 ($834,152) rather than the suggested €15m ($17.9m). The company also rebuffed claims of aggressive marketing, instead insisting it employed tactics typical of that found across the industry. 

In regards to the mental and emotional damages caused, Betsson pointed to the plaintiff’s source of funds, which consisted of cash generated through his business. The gambling operator argued that the plaintiff had not suffered personal damages due to his use of company profits.

The Swedish Patent and Market Court ruled that the plaintiff could not prove that Betsson was aware of his gambling addiction, dismissing the claims of exploitation. Judges at the court also sided with Betsson over the claims of aggressive marketing.

The court ordered the plaintiff to reimburse BML’s legal costs, and provide the business with compensation of SEK 2.08m ($244,183).

In a statement sent to EGR after the court decision, Betsson said it worked hard to create a “safe and secure environment” for its customers. “We, together with most of the industry, have during the years developed strongly in the area of responsible gaming, and nowadays take good use of technological advances in the field,” the statement read.

An unusual outcome

The result of this Betsson lawsuit may come as a surprise to some, with Swedish authorities far from lenient when it comes to claims against the nation’s gambling operators.

Last year proved particularly difficult for Sweden’s online casino companies. Swedish Social Security Minister Ardalan Shekarabi introduced a string of new measures to combat a predicted rise in gambling related harm amid the pandemic. Despite opposition from licensees and the national regulator, the government imposed strict deposit and time limits for online casino gambling.

In addition, authorities handed out a number of fines throughout the year for regulatory transgressions. One such case saw Betsson hit with an SEK 20m ($2.3m) Spelinspektionen (SGA) fine. The national regulator accused Betsson of allowing customers to fund online accounts using retail vouchers. The SGA also found that a Betsson-branded Mastercard offered players illegal bonuses.

Betsson claims it used the vouchers “in line with the applicable law” and did not offer any comercial incentives connected to the Betsson Mastercard. The gambling company has since said it intends to appeal the fine.

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