Regulatory turbulence in Norway

Thu, 17 Feb, 2022

Kindred Group, amongst several other stakeholders, is in the front line fighting and working in favour of a long-awaited transparent and non-discriminatory Norwegian licensing system, equivalent to those in Denmark and Sweden. We had a sit down with Rolf Sims, Kindred’s Public Affairs Manager Norway where he answers some of the questions related to the daily turbulent, political and regulatory challenges on the Norwegian gambling market.

On Friday 11th February, the Norwegian Gaming Authority sent a notice to Trannel International Ltd, a subsidiary within Kindred Group, informing that the authority is considering issuing penalties against Trannel. What does this mean and what is the background for this case?

Trannel is regulated and licensed in Malta and offers online gambling services that are accessible to customers over the world. Today, only the state-owned company Norsk Tipping and private trust Norsk Rikstoto offer and market gambling under the Norwegian Gambling Act. The Norwegian authorities are of the opinion that Trannel is illegal, because its services are accessible to Norwegian customers. It is however not illegal for Norwegian customers to accept and participate in cross-border services, like Trannel’s. Furthermore, in failing to organize a transparent licensing regime and conducting a truly consistent gambling policy, we feel that the fundamental freedoms within EEA-law (European Economic Area) are systematically being violated by Norway, to the Norwegian Government’s advantage.

In 2019 the NGA issued an order in which it essentially requested Trannel to stop allowing Norwegians to use its services. Trannel considers that the order is unlawful. The order has therefore been appealed by Trannel and the appeal is currently being considered by Norwegian courts. The notice now issued by the NGA states that the NGA now is considering ordering Trannel to pay a penalty unless Trannel complies with the order issued in 2019. Hence, there is not yet a decision to actually order Trannel to pay any penalties.

Why does Trannel object to the notice issued by the Norwegian Authorities?

In the same way that it is not illegal for Norwegians to shop with eBay or Amazon, it is not illegal for Norwegians to participate in cross-border services, including lawful, regulated entertainment-based gambling. The bigger issue is the flagrant incompatibility of the Norwegian regime with the fundamental principles of and established case law pursuant to EEA law and the legal consequences attached thereto. The lack of a transparent and objective licensing regime and the inconsistencies of the current regime disregard what should be the core policy focus, protecting local consumers.

Kindred presents itself as a sustainable company that takes social responsibility seriously. How responsible is it to initiate litigation against the Norwegian government?

Ensuring compliance with national and international laws contributes to a sustainable society. This also extends to Norway. A comprehensive judicial review of the legality of the order issued in 2019 and the gambling monopoly is for the benefit of Norwegian society, consumers and vulnerable players.