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Norwegian regulator to restart daily fines for Kindred

| By Robert Fletcher
Kindred Group said that it will challenge a decision by Norwegian regulator Lotteritilsynet to recommence daily fines against the operator and its Trannel International subsidiary.

Lotteritilsynet in September warned Kindred that it would impose a fine of NOK1.198m (£98,902/€113,930/$116,930) for every day Trannel did not withdraw from Norway.

The daily fine was due to come into effect three weeks after the day Lotteritilsynet decided to implement the fine. That decision came on 14 September, after it previously warned it would issue fines if the operator did not exit the market.

Lotteritilsynet last month announced the daily fines would cease after Kindred said Trannel would no longer target consumers in Norway. However, Kindred said it had done so only as a show of good will. Furthermore, the company said it was confident that its legal position was still correct.

Aware that the daily fines will now restart despite taking action, Kindred said it maintained its position. It disagrees with the legal basis for the “non-enforceable fine” and will continue to challenge this in the courts.

Kindred set out the changes it has made to Trannel. These include switching the language on all sites from Norwegian to English. It would also remove any Norwegian flags from websites and channels and change the Storspiller name to a non-Norwegian one.

Other changes included discontinuing all advertising and marketing activities in Norwegian and ceasing to offer Norwegian-speaking customer service agents.

“Despite these changes and Trannel’s clear communication to the contrary, Lotteritilsynet incorrectly claims that Trannel’s offering still targets Norwegian residents and has therefore decided to reinstate the coercive fine,” Kindred said.

“Trannel firmly disagrees with the assessment as it is fully legal for Norwegian residents to access and use international gambling services, which are licensed in the EU/EEA area and offered within a safe and secure environment. Kindred will continue to passively accept customers residing in Norway. 

“Lotteritilsynet does not have jurisdiction over Trannel as the company is domiciled in Malta and duly licensed by the Maltese Gaming Authority. Therefore, Kindred is confident that the coercive fine cannot be enforced by Lotteritilsynet outside of Norway.”

Kindred stressed it has applied for a gambling licence as it wishes to be an active part of Norwegian society and contribute to the country financially. However, only Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto can offer online gambling services in Norway under the national Gambling Act.

The operator has previously spoken out against this setup and called on authorities to consider a “non-discriminatory” licensing system. This would allow private operators to secure approval in the country.

“Kindred strongly believes that a locally licensed, transparent and non-discriminatory gambling market in Norway where responsible operators can operate under the supervision of competent authorities is the best solution for Norwegian society, players and operators,” Kindred said.

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