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William Hill takes on the Swedish Bank

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William Hill is fighting the SEB’s decision to stop services to the gambling industry due to money laundering concerns.

Money laundering and fraudulent activity are among the more serious concerns when it comes to online gambling.

For gaming authorities and government officials, the concerns often lead to taking drastic measures.

William Hill has been on the fighting end with the Swedish bank, SEB moving to ban payments to and from online casinos accounts.

Money laundering has been a hot topic in Sweden with over 700 reports received in 2020 alone.

William Hill's battle with the SEB

Sweden's bank, Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB (SEB) recently stated it plans to stop serving the gambling industry due to money laundering concerns.

William Hill is one of many UK-based operators launching a complaint regarding these drastic measures taken by Swedish authorities.

William Hill, who currently operates the Mr Green brand in Sweden, has sent a request asking the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority (Finansinspektionen) to intervene. The main concern is the bank's determination to sever its relationship with gambling operators and cancel all corporate banking agreements.

The Swedish bank is under the impression that the gambling industry is a breeding ground for money laundering. William Hill however argues that the ban breaks anti-competition regulations and requested an injunction to stop the SEB from closing accounts.

The cancellation of banking agreements will lead to massive losses and would also block access to BankID and other Swiss payment methods. Forcing online casinos legally operating in the state to find alternative payment solutions.

A strong finish despite curveballs

Even with revenue falling 16% in 2020, William Hill had a 9% growth in their online business. The brand also saw an international net revenue increase of 16% with the expansion into new territories. In the second half of 2020, the company's platform and product launches for the UK online sector generated €503.2 million in net revenue for the year. While total retail net revenue fell 51% the US net revenue grew 32%.

According to William Hill Chief Executive Officer, Ulrik Bengtsson, they went from a good start to a strong finish. Bengtsson emphasised the traction generated by the strategic focus on Customer, Team, and Execution. Specifically mentioning the increased focus and dedication to player and team safety.

2020 was a year of implementing strategic plans, diversifying the geographical footprint, expanding the current capabilities, and rebuilding their technology. Despite decreases seen in retail, the brand is happy with its international online performance. With the benefit of investing in enhancing their online product and technology.

William Hill is expanding even more with plans to enter Colombia and Argentina, to increase growth and opportunity in Latin America. With all this in mind, the focus remains on prioritising player protection.

Sweden's money laundering concerns

A report from Sweden's Financial Police reveals more than 700 reports of suspected money laundering by gaming companies in 2020.

This is a 14.8% increase from 2019 during which there were only 614 reports. According to the Swedish gambling regulator, Spelinspektionen, only half of the licensed operators submitted reports throughout 2020. Indicating a possible under-reporting from the gaming industry.

That being said, there is no evidence of money laundering taking place within the gaming industry or the companies that failed to hand in reports. Online gambling activity saw an increase throughout Sweden in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A fact that might help explain the increase in money laundering reports.

The recent Sweden's regulations and restrictions are making the legal situation more difficult for licensed operators. This along with the SEB planning on refusing services to gambling operators could lead to players shifting over to unlicensed operators.

There is hope that the ban on financial services will lift, as the iGaming industry is already navigating strenuous waters within Sweden due to strict regulations and increase changes.

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