The Norwegian Gambling Authority (NGA) is threatening to fine Kindred NOK437m (€43m) if it does not cease offering online gambling in the country within the next three weeks.
The fines will accrue at NOK1.2m (€118,000) daily, up to a cap of NOK437m, which the authority has estimated is the annual gross profit of Kindred subsidiary Trannel, the authority said in a statement on Thursday (September 15).
“When a gambling company that operates illegally in Norway can earn NOK437m from its illegal activity in the course of a year, we owe it to the Norwegian people and those who struggle with gambling problems to do what we can to stop the illegal business,” said NGA department director Henrik Nordal.
The regulator initially threated Kindred in February with daily fines over what it considers to be illegal operations, but Kindred challenged the enforcement action.
In a hearing on June 20, the Oslo District Court backed the regulator and gave it the go-ahead to continue. The penalty fees could begin accruing as soon as three weeks from now, the regulator said.
Kindred remains defiant and says it has challenged the Oslo ruling.
“As with the NGA’s cease and desist order, Trannel fundamentally disagrees with this decision to impose a daily fine upon the company and will therefore appeal the decision on a coercive fine,” said a spokesperson for the operator.
The regulator issued a cease and desist order against Trannel in May 2019, which the operator challenged all the way to the Norwegian Supreme Court, before the country’s apex court ultimately refused to hear the case.
Kindred, along with a number of other high-profile online gambling companies active in Norway, say they are acting in line with European Economic Area (EEA) law.
Under EEA rules, they say, the total gambling monopoly held in Norway by Norsk Tipping and Rikstoto should not be allowed.
“In absence of a transparent and non-discriminatory licence process or a monopoly that complies with the requirements as per EEA law, exclusive rights cannot be enforced,” said the Kindred spokesperson.
Kindred’s chief executive insists that the company is taking a hands-off approach to the country.
"We have no presence in Norway," Henrik Tjärnström told VIXIO GamblingCompliance during a break in the Swedish-listed company's capital markets presentation on Wednesday in London. "The Norwegian government has no jurisdiction outside Norway."
Kindred does not solicit Norwegian residents as customers and any Norwegian players who might be on its websites have found their own way to its dot.com websites, he said.
In March, the NGA issued a similar decree to Betsson, warning it would face daily “coercive fines” if it did not cut off Norwegians.
The NGA and the Norwegian Media Authority is also continuing to pressure TV networks to stop them from running advertising for operators not licensed in Norway.
In April, it issued the latest salvo in a long-running battle with TV network Discovery, ordering local distributors not to allow gambling ads to run in the country.
They were given until August 15 to comply or else face their own raft of “coercive fines”.
Additional reporting by David Altaner.