Apps and Opportunities: A Nordic Update

Flags of the Scandinavian countries

The latest news from the Nordic region includes a family fraud and more tools to help with gambling addiction. Gina Clarke finds out more.

For teenagers across the world, finding a loophole to exploit big businesses for money must seem like a dream come true, but for one Finnish youngster who roped in his parents, a jail sentence now awaits.

Online gaming theft

Earlier this week, Finnish news outlet YLE broke the news of a case in Häme District Court, in which a teenager from the town of Forssa was accused of committing serious fraud after finding a glitch in a gaming website’s online software.

The teen is thought to be around 18 years old now and will be tried as an adult but, while still a juvenile, he discovered that a loophole in casino software allowed him to cancel pending withdrawals. Once canceled, he could transfer the money to an online wallet of his choice instead of returning it to the original customer.

It was reported that, over a month-long period, the youngster intercepted 147 withdrawal requests to the value of €250,000 (£225,000; $289,000) before a member of staff noticed the theft in June 2017.

The online games operator, who is yet to be named, spotted the theft after a member of staff noticed the frequent blocking of transactions and linked them back to the period in which the teen was operating.

Details about the specific casino are being kept under wraps for legal reasons, but it’s thought that the glitch has now been patched so no other loopholes can be exploited.

A family affair

What’s probably more alarming about this case is that the young fraudsters’ parents have also been implicated in the incident, with prosecutors claiming they were accomplices to the crimes.

Individual accounts show that the parents are thought to have benefited from around €16,300 (£14,681; $18,818) of the winnings. Of that amount, €14,000 (£12,610; $16,157) was found in the father’s account. The mother had around €2,300 (£2,072; $2,654) linked to her account and a €5,000 (£4,503.5; $5,770) motorbike purchased with the diverted cash.

Prosecutors have charged the child’s father with aggravated money laundering while the mother is facing lesser charges. If they are found guilty, the son could face up to 20 months in prison and the father up to five months, while the mother would face a suspended sentence. The court is due to deliver a verdict early next month.

UK influencing Nordic gambling apps

Gambling is a big topic for the Nordic countries, with the risks of vulnerable users and addiction high on the list of important subjects.

To combat the risks, gambling advertising in Norway and Sweden has already been hit by tightened regulations, but those countries want to do more. News this week of a free gambling therapy app, an update by UK-based charity Gambling Therapy, is now available for download.

Made by Unibet’s parent company, Kindred Group, the free app is now available in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland and it has been translated into the four languages to increase accessibility.

The app was designed to help those who are struggling with problem gambling by providing easy access to information and straightforward tools to help gamblers remain in control.

Kindred Group is based in Sweden, so there was an obvious link for the company to teach gamblers how to enjoy gaming responsibly.

Adele Duncan, CEO of Gambling Therapy, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to enhance and develop further our Gambling Therapy app and that an updated version has now been launched. Providing this much-needed advice and support, now in an additional ten languages, means that we can reach more people who may be affected by their gambling. Our GT service is funded by the gambling industry outside of GB and, without their support, we would not be able to expand the app usage.”

Risk analysis tool

However, the app is not the only tool being rolled out to help gamers in the region:

Norway’s state-run online betting monopoly Norsk Tipping has signed a six-year extension to its contract with Playscan, a responsible gaming resource. Sweden’s state-owned online gambling, monopoly Svenska Spel, owns Playscan.

State-run gaming operators also use it for checking online activity to ensure they are not setting foot into problem gambling territory. The so-called risk analysis tool was launched in 2014 and “plays a key role in efforts to prevent gaming problems,” said Anika Hjälm of Svenska Spel.

With such differing attitudes across the region, it will be interesting to see if this latest audacious crime brings in any new regulations for the countries.