Kindred ceases operating in Norway

Kindred said it had made changes to show "good will".
Kindred said it had made changes to show "good will".

The operator has finally halted its Norwegian offering following the threat of fines.

Norway.- Kindred Group’s Trannel subsidiary has announced that it is no longer targeting consumers in Norway. As a result, the Norwegian gambling regulator Lotteritilsynet has put a pause on its scheduled daily fines against the operator. 

Kindred has long held out in Norway, continuing to offer gaming without a local licence in defiance of Norway’s state monopoly on gaming. When the national regulator announced last month that it would begin issuing daily fines, Kindred initially said that it would continue regardless and appeal against the fines in court.

It seems now that it’s had a change of heart. However, Kindred said that it was only pausing Norwegian operations to show good will, and that it remained confident in its interpretation of its legal position according to EEA law.

Lotteritilsynet was going to fine Kindred NOK1.198m (€115,000) for every day that it continued to offer gaming in Norway, starting from October 5. The fines would continue until reaching the amount that the regulator estimated to be the group’s profit from Norways, NOK437m, or its decision to withdraw. 

Trannel has no licence in Norway, where only the state-controlled Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto can offer gaming. However, it had offered its Unibet, Mariacasino, Storspiller and Bingo brands. It has always said it believes it is complying with EEA law on the free movement of services since it has a Malta licence. However, it will now pause operations while it continues its appeal.

Lotteritilsynet said that the fines to stay on pause, Trannel must remove its Norway-facing website domains, all options to choose the Norwegian language and must cease all Norwegian-language advertising and marketing. It must also decline to accept new Norwegian customers and must not provide suggestions on how to avoid Norway’s block on payment processing.

Lotteritilsynet director Henrik Nordal said: “We have decided to pause the compulsory fine of NOK1.2m per day as Trannel, the company behind Unibet and Mariacasino, states that it  will comply with Norwegian law. The penalty can still be quickly activated if they do not meet the conditions we have given in the decision.

“We will check carefully how Trannel complies with the conditions we have set for the postponement and will start the compulsory fine if we uncover a breach of these.”

Kindred said: “Kindred is making these changes as the company seeks a constructive and transparent dialogue with Norwegian authorities and Norwegian policy stakeholders.”

Last month, Norsk Tipping, one of Norway’s two legal gambling operators, announced that it would stop all sports betting advertising on TV. The move is part of a series of measures from Norsk Tipping to reduce its marketing.

It said it would reduce its total marketing spend and would also stop sending SMS messages to promote gambling. The operator said that since Discovery Europe had complied with the country’s ban on the broadcast of gambling adverts from unlicensed operators, it no longer needs to market its own offer so visibly.

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