Norwegian regulator warns chess federation over Kindred deal

24 June 2019

Norway’s gambling regulator has warned the country’s chess federation against finalising its proposed commercial partnership with Kindred Group.

In a letter to the Norwegian Chess Federation – which has jurisdiction over world champion Magnus Carlsen - Lottstift said it should “consider the consequences” of working with a company it claims operates in the country illegally.

Lottstift said that Kindred, through its subsidiary Trannel, offers money games in Norway via the Unibet and Maria Casino brands, despite not being licensed. The regulator suggested that the chess federation could legally find itself in a ‘grey zone’ if it is seen to help market operators which are not licensed in Norway.

“By entering into an agreement with Kindred, the Norwegian Chess Federation puts itself in a situation where connected will continuously operate in a grey zone between freedom of speech and illegal marketing,” Lottstift said in a statement.

“As of today, the agreement is impossible to assess in advance what activities will constitute a violation of the marketing ban. This comes entirely to how the activity is carried out in practice.

“Although the co-operation agreement itself may be legal, the Norwegian Gaming Authority will nevertheless encourage Norway's Chess Federation to carefully assess the consequences of entering into such an agreement, both by becoming involved in a situation that could potentially lead to a risk of violation of the gaming rules, and by publishing fronts a collaboration with one actor who today deliberately breaks Norwegian law.”

The chess federation, which said it has sought legal advice, will make a formal decision whether to proceed with the partnership at a meeting in July.

Trannel International was ordered to cease operations in Norway in April after being found in breach of national igaming regulations by Lottstift.

The subsidiary was one of seven operators 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.