Kindred subsidiary faces $140,000 daily fine if it does not leave Norway

Posted: February 16, 2022, 9:42 a.m.

Last update: February 17, 2022, 01:17 a.m.

Kindred received an ultimatum in Norway. Its gambling subsidiary Trannel International must either leave the country or face increasing fines until it does.

Henrik Tjarnstrom
Henrik Tjärnström, CEO of Kindred Group. The company’s Trannel International arm is embroiled in a battle with Norway’s gaming regulator. (Image: Kindred Group)

Lottstift, Norway’s gambling regulator, lays down the law.

He accuses Kindred subsidiary Trannel International, the company behind Unibet and others, of operating illegally in the country. He wants the platform to come out immediately.

If not, Lottstift warns that it will start fining the company €120,000 ($134,000) a day until it finally relents.

Trannel “steals” the Norwegians

It’s a bit prophetic that Magnus Carlsen is an ambassador for Unibet. The gambling operator is involved in an ongoing chess match with Norway’s Lottstift.

The regulator calls Trannel a “recidivist” in an advisory, arguing that it continues to ignore warnings that have been issued over the past two years. During this time, the operator has continued to profit from its activity, and all this income is illegal.

When a gambling company operating illegally in Norway can earn NOK 437 million ($48.9 million) from its illegal activity in one year, we owe it to the people of Norway to do what we can to stop the ‘illegal activity’ said the director general of the Norwegian Lotteries Foundation, Atle Hamar.

Lottstift and the Norwegian Lotteries Foundation (NLF) ordered Trannel to stop all operations immediately. The company must also quickly show how it will respond to the order. However, like previous orders to stop his activity, Trannel ignores this one.

Operator claims discrimination

The dispute between the regulator and the gambling operator has been going on for more than three years.

When Norway introduced intellectual property and payment restrictions four years ago, Trannel took it personally. He argued that the new rules unfairly targeted the company and exceeded the power of the regulator.

Trannel tried to find support in the Norwegian legal system. In 2019, he sued the regulator, arguing that Lottstift was wrong and that he should be able to offer his games since he was licensed by the Malta Gaming Authority.

But the suit fell on deaf ears. The Norwegian Ministry of Culture and the NLF declined to support the prosecution. Subsequent appeals were also unsuccessful, with the latest decision being issued on March 12, 2020.

“Six out of 10 Norwegians don’t know that gaming sites like Unibet, Maria Casino, High Roller and Bingo.com offer their games illegally in Norway. We want to protect those who have gambling problems and now hope Trannel chooses to comply with the law,” Hamer said.

Operations continue… for now

Since then, Trannel has always tried to find legal relief from government sources, but to no avail. As a result, every time a Norwegian user accesses the site, they do so illegally, according to the regulator.

The next stop for Trannel is the Oslo District Court. He continues his fight and hopes that the court will rule differently than all the other times. The case will be heard in May. The operator believes it has the right to continue operating in the country until then.

Kindred has not publicly commented on Lottstift’s latest move. A request for comment was also pending at the time of publication.