The original conviction involving five accused of bot ring was overturned by Sweden’s court of appeals.
Svenska Spel, the monopolized Swedish online gaming company, announced in February 2013 that the company had suspended 14 accounts, suspected of employing poker bots. At the time, the company reported that the accounts had won approximately US$ 280k in NL Hold’em games from NL50 up to NL500.
After the company passed its findings onto the police, seven people involved in the case were arrested. By June 2014, five of them were convicted of serious fraud and sentenced to probation.
Even though the sentence was light, this was the first time online poker players were prosecuted for cheating.
The company repaid a total of SEK 3.8 million (US$ 586,000) to around 25,000 players who were victims of the fraud. Svenska Spel revealed that the fraud was much bigger than initially suspected.
However the original conviction has now been overturned. The Swedish Court of Appeals published a release stating that:
“According to the Court of Appeals, the defendants through misleading persuaded a large part of the 25,000 plaintiffs to play poker on the poker robot. However, it is not proven that the procedure entailed harm to the plaintiffs or gain to the defendants in the manner required for liability for fraud. The Court of Appeals has considered that it is the question of a game where the outcome in substantial part due to chance. It is not proven that the software has been designed so that it has had a greater ability — skillful been — other than the defendants themselves when they have played without software. Chances of profit for the injured party has not been less because the defendants used the software at the game.”
To address Svenska Spel monopoly position in Sweden, the Government has been in the process of reexamining Sweden’s online gambling law.
While the law doesn’t change, it is important to reflect on the nuances of this particular case.
Darren Woods Conviction
Since 2005 it is illegal to cheat at online poker in the UK, and since 2014 the maximum sentence went from two years to ten years in prison, thanks to the Gambling Act of 2014.
Now that the conviction has been overturned in Sweden, UK can claim to the first-ever successful prosecution of a poker fraud.
In January 2015, Darren Woods, WSOP bracelet winner, was sentenced to 15 months in prison. Online poker players were scammed out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by Woods.
The WSOP bracelet winner face an additional 6 years in prison if he doesn’t pay back his victims, in total Woods has to pay back £1 million (US$1.4 million).
The judge told Woods the following:
“Cheating undermines confidence in the recreational gambling industry,”. “Those who might choose to gamble recreationally may be deterred if the system is unfairly balanced in favor of other players by such conduct as yours.”