Spelinspektionen orders Kindred Group to pay 100 million SEK for bonus violations

Kindred penalty fee

Spelinspektionen has handed a 100 million Swedish Krona penalty fee to Kindred Group.

The penalty relates to offering unauthorised bonuses, as well as lotteries without a licence.

Multi-brand check reveals various violations 

Spelinspektionen had conducted checks on Kindred’s Unibet, Maria Casino, Storspelare, Bingo and iGame websites. During this, multiple unauthorised bonuses were discovered.

In accordance Swedish regulations, bonuses can only be offered to players when they sign up. But Kindred had offered a loyalty programme for online bingo last March, along with other promotions. These related to customer acquisition, poker, casino tournaments and cash draws.

Following these discoveries, the operator was questioned. Kindred argued that these were not bonuses since no financial incentive was included. Instead, the operator argued that they were more of an in-game mechanic.

A second check was then performed in May and June 2019. Free spins, free online bingo games, free bets and rewards for playing poker were found during this investigation. Kindred removed these offers, while also explaining that the the free spins promotions were outdated. As such, players were unable to activate these.

Spelinspektionen asked Kindred about its bingo promotions and loyalty programme in September.

According to the regulator, the bonus violations were considered to be serious. Moreover, it argued that the offered prize draws are not covered by Sweden’s betting and gaming laws.

Assumed that these offences will not be repeated 

After handing Kindred the penalty fee, Spelinspektionen felt that Kindred’s decision to remove these offers meant that offences were unlikely to be repeated. It said the below.

“Since [Kindred] has amended its offer, and it is assumed that in future the company will not violate the rules on bonus offers or offering games that are not covered by its licence, Spelinspektionen considers that a warning alongside a penalty fee is a sufficient intervention.”

The regulator said that the penalty fee was decided on the basis that, as is printed in official legislation, such fees cannot be more than 10% of a licensed operator’s turnover. It felt the need to impose a high fee due to the number of violations.

Kindred has also commended on the situation. It said that it perceived the meaning of a bonus different to Spelinspektionen, noting that it has been more restrictive with promotions since last spring.

The company has said that it will appeal the regulator’s choice to receive judicial guidance on how laws should be perceived. But while this goes on, it intends to keep its strict bonus guidelines as they are.

The operator said the below.

“Kindred is of the opinion that the Swedish Gambling Act adopted on 1 January 2019 has been vague in areas related to commercial activities and thereby creating unnecessary ambiguity.

“Kindred welcomes more clarity in these areas and continues to improve its operations to ensure full compliance.”