Kindred Group, which has challenged Norway’s gambling monopoly, has also been challenging the award of a race betting monopoly to government-owned Norsk Rikstoto.
In September 2022, Kindred’s Norwegian unit launched a challenge in Oslo District Court, claiming that a licence granted exclusively to Norsk Rikstoto should have been opened for competition, based on public procurement regulations and European Economic Area (EEA) agreements.
A Kindred spokesperson said the company is not challenging the exclusivity of the licence, but instead the fact that the Norwegian government’s lack of a licensing tender prevented Kindred’s subsidiary from competing for the licence.
Last month, the district court asked the European Free Trade Association Court for guidance on whether EU directives on awarding of concession contracts applied to the award of an exclusive contract to a non-profit group.
Norway is not part of the 27-member European Union, but it does belong to the 30-member EEA, which also includes Iceland and Liechtenstein.
The ministry of culture and equality, which oversees Norsk Tipping, said that the exclusive right of Norsk Tipping is “legal and in accordance with EEA law”.
“The exclusive right is a permit with a strong degree of public control, based on weighty gambling policy considerations,” a spokesperson said. “The exclusive right cannot be considered a public contract covered by procurement regulations.”
Last December, the government-owned Norsk Rikstoto, with a responsibility to promote equestrian sports and horse breeding, got a ten-year extension on its monopoly.
Kindred has so far lost its court battles in appeal of its fines for the Norwegian Gambling Authority’s (NGA) claims that it is illegally offering online gambling to Norwegian residents.
But planned daily fines have been paused while the regulator prepares to review the company’s plans for implementing the court’s rulings.
Betsson’s punishment has also been paused for review by the NGA.
The regulator has warned bet365 and ComeOn Group and four of its brands to stop offering online gambling to Norwegians, or also face the prospect of daily fines.