Norwegian regulator Lotteritilsynet has warned Kindred Group it will receive a compulsory fine of up to NOK437m (£37.5m/€42.8m/$42.7m) within a year if it does not cease what it views as illegal online gambling operations in the country.
Lotteritilsynet will impose a fine of NOK1.198m every day that Kindred’s Trannel subsidiary does not withdraw from Norway.
The daily fine will come into effect three weeks after the day that Lotteritilsynet decided to implement the fine. That decision came on 14 September this year, after it previously warned the operator it would issue fines if it did not exit the market.
These fines will only stop when the amount owed reaches Trannel’s annual gross profit, which the regulator estimated to be approximately NOK437m, or when the operator withdraws from the country.
Trannel does not hold a licence to operate in Norway, but Lotteritilsynet said the operator’s Unibet, Mariacasino, Storspiller and Bingo brands are accessible to players in the country. As such, the regulator deemed Trannel to be operating illegally.
Kindred previously spoke out against the order, saying it believed that it was not breaching Norwegian law and as such would not cease operations.
Norwegian state-owned Norsk Tipping and private trust Norsk Rikstoto are the only two operators licensed to offer online gambling services in the country under the national Gambling Act.
“When a gaming company that operates illegally in Norway can earn NOK437m from its illegal activity in the course of a year, we owe it to the Norwegian people and those who struggle with gambling problems to do what we can to stop the illegal business,” Norwegian Lottery and Foundation Authority department director Henrik Nordal said.
“Surveys show that six out of ten Norwegians do not know Unibet, Mariacasino, Storspiller and Bingo are illegal gambling in Norway. You can lose much more money on these games than you can on similar legal games in Norway.
“One of our most important societal missions is to protect those who have gambling problems or who are at risk of developing gambling problems. We expect Trannel to take social responsibility and withdraw from the Norwegian market.”
The case dates back to April 2019 when Lotteritilsynet ordered Trabbel to cease all online operations in Norway. Tranell appealed against the decision and also took the validity of the decision before the Oslo District Court.
In early 2020, the appeal bodies of the Ministry of Culture and the Lottery Board decided the complaint was unsuccessful, and that Lotteritilsynet’s decision was valid. Lotteritilsynet, the Norwegian Lottery Board and the Ministry of Culture also all considered and refused Trannel’s request for deferred implementation of the decision pending court proceedings.
Trannel’s deadline for complying with Lotteritilsynet’s decision expired in March 2020, with the regulator issuing notice of compulsory fine to Trannel in February of this year.
Trannel sent two letters to Lotteritilsynet with comments on pre-notification of compulsory fines, but the regulator said that the operator did not make any objections that would be of importance to its assessment, in terms of whether a compulsory fine should be imposed or the size of the fine.
The Oslo District Court heard the case on the validity of Lotteritilsynet’s decision in May and June of this year, but eventually concluded the regulator’s decision to impose a suspension was valid.
Tranell appealed the Oslo District Court’s judgment on 2 September 2022, but again came down on the side of Lotteritilsynet. Trannel is yet to comply with the original order issued in April 2019.