Kindred Norway ban upheld by gambling regulator

Kindred Norway

Kindred Group subsidiary Trannel International has had its ban from offering its services in Norway upheld by Lotteriemnda, the country’s Lottery Board. 

Lotteri og Stiftelsestilsynet (Lotteritilsynet), the country’s gambling regulator, first ordered the operator to leave the market in April 2019. 

Although Kindred then appealed the decision, Lotteritilsynet has refused to change its stance. 

The regulator accused multiple Kindred brands of seeking to attract Norwegian players, despite not having the permission to do so. 

Extensive Norwegian offerings 

Some of the group’s brands accused of operating in Norway include Unibet, Maria Bingo, Storspiller and BingoLottstift. Lotteritilsynet initially blocked these sites – plus six other operators – from accepting payments. 

According to the regulator, Kindred’s brands were optimised for players within Scandinavia’s westernmost country. The websites themselves had Norwegian-language pages, while deposits and bonuses were available in Norwegian Kroner (NOK). 

Marketing practices included TV channels that were aired in Norway, but broadcasted on satellite channels elsewhere. They also had Norwegian ambassadors, as well as press release services and social media channels in said language. 

When it dished the ‘get out’ order, Lotteritilsynet told Kindred to take down all of its services and imagery in Norwegian from its site. If it failed to do so, internet service providers would have the ability to block their domain. The operator was also told to stop advertising through local media and quit handling payments in the country’s currency. Kindred was also told to stop offering payment methods that were specifically-designed for customers in Norway.

Appeal

The Stockholm-headquartered operator appealed Lotteritilsynet’s decision to both the Norwegian Ministry of Culture and Lotteriemnda. In its eyes, the regulator didn’t provide clarity on whether it was referring to gambling directed “to Norway” or such activities that take place “in Norway”. It was also argued that making decisions against games offered from Malta, where Trannel is based, could only be done by ‘infringing on another nation’s sovereignty’. 

Kindred also believes that the exclusive rights for certain games and lotteries reserved for Norsk Tipping, the country’s monopoly operator, goes against the free movement of services.

However, Lotteriemnda showed Kindred no love and sided with the regulator’s initial verdict. It believes that Lotteritilsynet has not interfered with another country’s sovereignty. 

The Ministry of Culture also dismissed the appeal on 7th January 2020. 

Lotteritilsynet will now ask Kindred whether or not it plans to accept the decision. Senior Advisor Trude Felde also believes that this case outlines Norwegian authorities’ needs to target offshore operators optimising their offerings for players in the country.