Kindred subsidiary ordered to cease operations in Norway

30 April 2019

Trannel International, a subsidiary of the Kindred Group, has been ordered to cease operations in Norway after being found in breach of national igaming regulations by the Norwegian Gaming Authority (Lottstift).

In its ruling, Lottstift said Trannel has been operating a number of sites illegally, including Unibet, Maria Casino, Storspiller and BingoLottstift. Norsk Tipping is the only operator licensed to offer igaming in the country. 

Lottstift said that Trannel had also been running various other sites without a licence, but it was its opinion that these four sites in particular were aimed at players in Norway.

The regulator wrote to Trannel several times to outline its concerns over its activity in the country. Trannel responded by saying that although it does not deny targeting Norway, Lottstift does not have the authority to order it to cease operations in the country.

Trannel said that as it is licenced in Malta, Norwegian gaming regulations do not apply to its business in Malta, and it would challenge any ruling under European Economic Area (EEA) rules.

However, Lottstift has said its regulations are seen as fully compatible with EEA rules and that they include a prohibition on overseas operators targeting players in the country.

Operators seen as targeting Norway include those that run sites and offer customer services in the Norwegian language, allow transactions in Norwegian Krone, have a Norwegian name, are marketed in Norway, or adapt their systems to accept payment transactions to and from players in the country.

Lottstift found evidence of these and various other factors on the four Kindred, and therefore ruled that the sites were illegally targeting Norwegian players.

The regulator has now ordered Trannel to stop offering its services to players in Norway immediately or risk a heavy fine. Lottstift has also said it would contact regulators in other markets where Trannel or Kindred is active to inform them of the illegal activities.

In a statement issued to iGamingBusiness.com, Kindred has said that there is no legal basis for the regulator to make such a decision and plans to appeal the ruling.

"A decision that concludes that activities that are operated in another EU country, where one is authorised to operate, is illegal and goes far beyond the jurisdiction of the Gaming Authority. Norway does not have the authority to intervene against activities that are lawfully operated in other countries," Kindred said.

"Kindred Group is a company that is regulated internationally and is licensed to offer gambling. It is not illegal for Norwegians to play on games licensed from another country than Norway.

"The Norwegian Gaming Authority does not have the jurisdiction to intervene against foreign operations even if one chooses to accept Norwegian customers."

The operator was one of seven hit by an order from Lottstift banning Norwegian and foreign banks from processing transactions to its site in February this year. The operator has also launched a lawsuit against the regulator, accusing it of going beyond its remit to prevent Kindred from offering online gaming services in Norway, which is due to be heard at the Oslo City Court later this year.

Image: Max Pixel