Kindred Subsidiary Defiant After Norwegian Court Loss

June 23, 2022
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Norway’s Oslo District Court has ruled against a subsidiary of the Kindred Group in its bid to defy the regulator and offer its gambling services in the country.

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Norway’s Oslo District Court has ruled against a subsidiary of the Kindred Group in its bid to defy the regulator and offer its gambling services in the country.

The subsidiary, Malta-licensed Trannel International, which operates the Unibet and several other only gambling sites, challenged the Ministry of Culture and Gender Equality when it upheld the Norwegian Gaming Authority’s (Lotteritilsynet) order to stop Kindred offering online gambling to Norwegians.

The court rejected Trannel’s challenge, which is based on the argument that the EEA Agreement on freedom of service is contrary to Norway’s exclusive rights model.

The Ministry of Culture and Gender Equality was acquitted by the court and Trannel has been ordered to pay NOK688,000 (€65,524) within two weeks of the judgment to cover the state’s legal costs.

Lotteritilsynet general director Atle Hamar said “the verdict confirms that the Lotteries and Foundations Authority's decision to stop the illegal gambling offer was correct. We now expect Trannel to withdraw from the Norwegian market.”

A spokesperson for Kindred Group told VIXIO GamblingCompliance it takes note that the Oslo Town Court has not accepted its arguments that there is a lack of legal basis for the Lotteritilsynet cease and desist order.

However, it will “continue to dispute and will appeal as we seek to deliver a free, open, competitive and safe gambling environment in Norway”.

Kindred Group has one month to appeal the decision which was handed out on June 20, 2022.

“We continue to believe that a transparent and objective licensing regime is the only way to obtain a well-functioning gambling market that balances consumer entertainment and consumer protection. We will continue to work towards this goal,” Kindred Group said.

Lotteritilsynet warned Kindred in February 2022 that it would be fined 1.2m Norwegian krone (€118,000) a day if it does not stop offering gambling to Norwegian residents.

At the time of the warning, a spokesperson for Kindred Group said it “does not offer gambling in Norway and its operations do not in any way violate Norwegian law”.

Separately, the government draft of a new gambling act has made progress. The new law will replace three different laws that currently regulate gambling in Norway.

It was approved in its second reading in the country’s parliament in March and is set to replace the existing Lottery Act, Gambling Act and Totalisator Act, when it enters into force on January 1, 2023.

The main aims of the new law are to prevent problematic gambling and retain gambling revenues from non-profit organisations, partly by strengthening the existing exclusive rights model and making it even harder for foreign operators to advertise in Norway, said the government.

The new law also provides the gaming authority with new tools for detecting, reacting to and sanctioning violations of the law.

This includes “the authority to impose infringement fines", according to Abid Raja, minister of culture and gender equality.

A consultation on the gambling regulation update was launched in May and will close on August 5, 2022.

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