Norway’s gambling regulator is claiming victory in its war against online gambling operator Kindred Group’s right to operate in the country.
In April 2019, Norway’s Lotteritilsynet regulatory agency formally ordered Kindred’s Malta-based subsidiary Trannel International Ltd to “stop the illegal offer of money games” from its Unibet, MariaCasino, Storspiller and Bingo.com brands, based on the regulator’s view that Kindred was infringing on state gambling monopoly Norsk Tipping’s turf.
Trannel appealed this order to Norway’s Ministry of Culture and Lottery Committee but on Thursday, the regulator announced that both the Ministry and Committee had rebuffed this appeal and “fully” upheld the regulator’s GTFO order.
Lotteritilsynet senior adviser Trude Felde said the decision was “an important confirmation that we interpret the regulations correctly.” Felde said the regulator would contact Kindred to “ask if they intend to comply with the decision.” (Spoiler alert: they won’t.)
Norway previously imposed payment-blocking orders to make it more difficult for internationally licensed operators to conduct business with Norwegian punters. Operators appealed but Norwegian courts have upheld these orders, which the regulator has since ramped up.
Unlike its neighbor Sweden, Norway is clinging tight to its state-run gambling monopoly model, although the country’s problem gambling association Spillavhengighet Norge recently announced that it had launched a working group to study whether a monopoly model was the best way to counter problem gambling activity.
The working group plans to present its findings at its 2021 national meeting, and Spillavhengighet Norge adviser Magnus Pedersen said that “if there are models out there that provide better protection than today, then we need to look into that.”
Meanwhile, Lotteritilsynet recently issued a warning to sports bodies that entering into sponsorship arrangements with gambling operators other than Norsk Tipping and its racing counterpart Norsk Rikstoto was illegal and that they should “assess the consequences” of striking such deals.
The regulator extended this warning to the Norges E-sportforbund (Norwegian E-sports Federation), which last week announced a sponsorship tie-up with online gambling operator ComeOn Group. That deal was almost immediately scratched after Norway’s traditional sports bodies reportedly threatened to expel the eSports group from its ranks if the deal went ahead.