Kindred-owned Trannel, which operates websites including Unibet, must leave Norway after losing an appeal, the country’s regulator has warned.
Judges on the Borgarting Court of Appeal ruled that the Norwegian gambling regulator was correct to order Kindred, which runs Trannel as a subsidiary, to cease running unlicensed gambling services.
The decision marks the latest twist in Kindred’s years-long dispute with Norway’s authorities concerning the status of its grey market operations.
Alte Hamar, director of the Norwegian Gambling and Foundation Authority, said the organisation was “very satisfied” with the judgment from the court of appeal.
Hamar said that it showed that large international gaming businesses must adhere to Norwegian law and stop offering unlicensed gambling services to consumers.
“The fact that Trannel is not supported on a single point shows that the work we do to get illegal companies out of the Norwegian market is solid and well-established,” said Hamar.
“The verdict confirms that the Lotteries and Foundations Authority’s decision to stop the illegal gambling offer was correct. Now we expect the company to withdraw completely from the Norwegian market.”
The court supported the state on all points and rejected Kindred’s appeal. The business must also pay the Ministry of Culture and Equality’s legal costs for the case.
The case dates back to the gambling regulator’s April 2019 order to Kindred to stop offering online gambling to Norwegian consumers.
Following the decision, the Norwegian Gambling Authority decided to give Trannel a compulsory fine of NOK1.2m (£88,000) per day until Trannel stopped offering gambling in Norway.
At the time of the fine, Kindred denied it targeted gambling services at Norwegian residents and said it did not believes that the regulator had the authority to fine foreign operators.
”Kindred Group does not offer gambling in Norway and its operations do not in any way violate Norwegian law,” a spokeswoman said.
“Norwegian customers participate of their own free will and it is not illegal for Norwegians to participate in international licensed offers of games. It should be emphasised that the Norwegian Gambling Authority does not have the authority to issue fines against foreign operators outside Norway.”
After this month’s ruling, culture and equality minister Anette Trettebergstuen said: “The Court of Appeal has confirmed that the Norwegian exclusive rights model is in accordance with EEA law.
“The result is not exactly surprising, as this lawsuit joins the series of several other lawsuits in the gambling field where the state has been fully supported each time.”
Trannel challenged the validity of the original 2019 decision before the Oslo district court but also lost there.
The appeal bodies, the Ministry of Culture and Equality and the Lottery Board, also rejected the complaint’s arguments against a fine in 2020.
The Norwegian Supreme Court decided in 2021 not to hear Kindred’s appeal in what the operator referred to as its “good governance” case against the Norwegian Gambling Authority.