Online gambling operator Kindred Group received another blow in its legal battle to operate in Norway after a court in the capital sided with the country’s gaming regulator and ordered the operator to leave the market.
Legal Setback for Trannel
Trannel, a Malta-licensed subsidiary of Kindred Group, lost its appeal in the Oslo District Court against the decision of the Norwegian Lotteries Authority, Lottstift, to leave the market. Trannel was issued a cease and desist order by Lottstift in April 2019 for operating in Norway with a Malta license.
In February, the Stockholm-listed gambling group was warned by the regulator that if it continues to operate without a Norwegian license, it would be facing fines of NOK 1.2 million ($121,300) per day up to a total of NOK437 million ($44.2 million), the amount earned by Trannel per year of illegal operations.
Despite the legal setback, Kindred Group is adamant to continue to fight its case in pursuit of a “transparent and objective licensing regime.” A spokesperson for Kindred Group outlined the company would re-appeal the Oslo District Court ruling.
Commenting on the decision, the spokesperson noted that the ruling means that the Oslo District Court did not accept the group’s arguments questioning the legal basis of Lottstift’s cease and desist order but the dispute is set to continue as the end goal is a “free, open, competitive and safe gambling environment in Norway,” and it cannot be achieved without a “transparent and objective licensing regime” that will allow for the balancing of consumer entertainment and consumer protection.
Kindred has been arguing that holding a gambling license issued by the Malta Gaming Authority was enough for it to offer its services across the European Economic Area (EEA) while Lottstift is adamant that operating without a Norwegian license constitutes a violation of EEA law.
The Saga To-Date
Initially, Trannel appealed the order to leave the market with the Ministry of Culture and the Lottery Board but lost both appeals and had to stop operations no later than March 12, 2020, yet it continued to offer its products and services to Norway residents.
Kindred also saw his appeals with the Oslo City Court, Oslo Court of Appeals and the Norwegian Supreme Court rejected. In the meantime, Kindred referred to the Oslo District Court to determine the legality of the order issued by the regulator.
As a result of the latest appeal rejection, Kindred will also have to pay the legal costs incurred to the state via the Ministry of Culture.