Norway has reinstated a series of multi-million euro fines against Kindred, only weeks after a deal to suspend the enforcement was reached, according to the Stockholm-listed operator.
In an announcement on Monday morning (November 21), Kindred said the Norwegian Gaming Authority (NGA) had decided to re-introduce penalties that could reach as high as NOK437m (€43m) over the operator’s alleged illegal gambling offering in the country.
The regulator argues Kindred’s Malta-based subsidiary Trannel is in breach of Norway’s gambling monopoly and said in September it would wrack up fines of NOK1.2m (€118,000) a day if it did not exit the market.
In October, a deal between the two parties was announced that saw the fines put on hold. Kindred agreed to abide by certain conditions, including shutting down its Norwegian-language online gambling sites.
However, at the time, Kindred clarified that it would continue to “passively” accept gamblers from Norway.
In a press release issued this morning, Kindred said it had removed the Norwegian flag from all of its websites, changed Norwegian names to English ones and stopped offering customer services in Norwegian.
“Despite of these changes and Trannel's clear communication to the contrary, the NGA incorrectly claims that Trannel's offering still targets Norwegian residents and has therefore decided to reinstate the coercive fine,” the operator said.
There has been no official confirmation from the NGA that the fines are returning as of time of publication and the regulator was not immediately available for comment.
Kindred said it continues to disagree with the legal basis for the penalty and will push forward with its legal challenge.
The operator is contesting a July ruling in the Oslo District Court that backed the regulator’s powers to apply escalating fines, after enforcement against Kindred was initially floated in February of this year.
As Trannel is based in Malta and licensed by the Malta Gaming Authority, the company also argues that the NGA does not have jurisdiction to issue fines against it.
“Kindred is confident that the coercive fine cannot be enforced by the NGA outside of Norway,” it said.
Kindred said it has applied for a licence in Norway and wants to be regulated in the country.
There is, however, little sign that the government is prepared to abandon its monopoly model, under which Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto have exclusive rights to offer gambling.