Norway upholds Kindred iGaming ban

Kindred has been told it must cease offering services in Norwegian.
Kindred has been told it must cease offering services in Norwegian.

The complaints board Lotterinemnda has chosen to uphold a ban against Kindred Group’s Trannel International’s from operating in Norway 

Norway.- The independent complaints board Lotterinemnda has upheld a ban against Kindred Group’s subsidiary Trannel International, who must now cease to offer iGaming services to Norwegian customers.

Kindred had appealed to the body, which adjudicates on complaints under the Ministry of Culture, following a ban issued by the Norwegian gambling regulator Lotteritilsynet in April last year.

The ban was issued after the regulator accused Kindred of illegally targeting Norwegian players with brands including Unibet, Maria Casino, Storspiller and BingoLottstift. The regulator had already ordered blocks on payments to Kindred sites. 

The regulator said that the sites were still available in Norwegian, with Norwegian-language customer support, and that deposits and bonuses were displayed in Norwegian Krone. The company also marketed using Norwegian ambassadors, marketing services and social media channels, it said. 

It had previously said that Kindred must remove all Norwegian language services and imagery to avoid being blocked by internet service providers, must stop processing deposits and withdrawals in Norweigan Krone, and must not use payment solutions specifically aimed at the Norwegian market.

In its appeal, Kindred argued that the regulator had been inconsistent regarding whether it referred to gambling directed “to Norway” or gambling that took place “in Norway”, and claimed the regulator lacked the authority to make decisions against games offered from Malta without interfering with another nation’s sovereignty.

The iGaming operator also claimed that Norsk Tipping’s right to offer certain games and lotteries exclusively was a restriction on the free movement of services.

The Lotterinemnda board rejected Kindred’s appeal after following guidance from the Datakrimutvalget, a government committee that aims to fight cybercrime, including illegal iGaming.

The committee’s view was that while foreign websites normally fell outside Norwegian jurisdiction, exceptions could be made if the site was clearly designed for use in Norway and had an effect in the country. 

The board also said: “Lotterinemnda does not believe that Lotteritilsynet’s decision interferes with the sovereignty of another state. The relevant websites will continue to exist and may still be directed at customers in other countries where such gaming activities are permitted.”

Trude Felde, a senior advisor at Lotteritilsynet, said the ruling proved that the regulator was interpreting the regulations correctly by taking enforcement action against offshore operators that explicitly adapted offerings to target Norwegian customers.

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