The Norwegian Gambling Authority (NGA) is warning Kindred Group that it will be fined 1.2m Norwegian krone (€118,000) a day if it does not stop offering gambling to Norwegian residents.
Penalties could start in mid-March, according to a statement by a lawyer for the authority.
In all, the Stockholm-listed gambling company could be fined up to NOK437m (€43.2m), or the entire amount of gross profit that the regulator estimates the company’s subsidiary, Trannel International, generates in Norway each year.
That sum, about £36m, compares with the £288m gross win the company reported in the Nordics last year. Kindred does not break out gross win by country.
The move comes as Norway intensifies efforts to protect its gambling monopoly, Norsk Tipping.
The NGA expects to hear from Kindred-Trannel by March 1, said authority lawyer Trude Felde.
“If Trannel’s response does not contain information that makes us change our assessment, we will issue the order to pay the coercive fine, and start fining them two weeks after our order is issued,” she said.
In response, Kindred said it does not offer gambling to Norwegian residents, and it believes that the NGA does not have 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.”
Felde agreed that Norwegian residents cannot be fined for gambling with offshore operators.
“Instead we seek to inform them about Norwegian regulation, through campaigns, information letters, our website and SoMe,” she told VIXIO GamblingCompliance.
“Six out of ten Norwegians do not know that gaming sites such as Unibet offer their games illegally in Norway,” she said. “However operators, such as Trannel, are illegal in Norway, and are not allowed to offer gambling here.”
“The Norwegian regulation aims to protect players from the harms of gambling, and the Norwegian legal operators have stricter measures to protect their players than the offshore operators,” Felde said.
“When a gambling company that operates illegally in Norway can earn NOK437m on its illegal activity within a year, we owe it to the Norwegian people to do what we can to stop the illegal activity,” said authority director Atle Hamar.
In May 2019, the NGA ordered Kindred to stop offering gambling to Norwegian residents, after earlier ordering Norwegian banks to stop processing offshore gambling transactions.
Kindred lost appeals of that order to the Ministry of Culture and Lottery Board. Last July, the Norwegian Supreme Court declined to hear Kindred’s appeal of a case which challenged the gambling authority’s right to do test gambling to document possible violations of gambling law.
Kindred asked Oslo District Court to review the governmental rulings, and a court hearing is scheduled for May, according to the authority.
The regulator said it “will consider waiving the coercive fine, if Trannel submits a written statement with a specific proposal and plan for how they will comply with the decision”.
Also last July, the Norwegian regulator ordered Kindred rival Betsson to stop operating in Norway, warning that it risked a “coercive fine”.