Blow for Swedish gaming firm who refunded affected players.

Sweden’s Higher Court of Appeal has acquitted five defendants of an aggravated fraud sentence delivered when they were found guilty earlier this month by a Swedish District Court of playing poker against 25000 Svenska Spel poker players using a poker bot.

The case broke in 2003, when Svenska Spel notified local police of suspected fraud involving the use of a poker bot.  The company had identified and shut down 14 accounts but only recovered around $108,000 of the original $1.8 million won.  Svenska Spel subsequently demanded SEK 10 million in reparation from the five defendants to cover refunds it had made to affected players.

The poker bot (dubbed Maggie) operated in stakes ranging from $0.25/$0.50 up to $2.50/$5.00, Svenska Spel said at the time, and had developed to a point where it could beat weaker players but not better, higher stake poker players.

The defendants, men in their late-30’s and early-40’s, are all, but one, poker players who claimed that the development of the bot had begun as a hobby, an intellectual challenge.

This week, despite the court of appeals acknowledging the misleading nature of operating the poker bot, it still found “harm to the plaintiffs or gain to the defendants” unproven after considering outcomes were due in part to chance which cast doubt on whether the poker bot software would have given an unfair advantage to the five accused.