SBC News Stockholm District Court dismisses Holknekt challenge against Kindred 

Stockholm District Court dismisses Holknekt challenge against Kindred 

The District Court of Stockholm has dismissed a legal challenge against Kindred Group related to the compensation of losses of gambling addict Per Holknekt.

Renowned fashion designer and founder of online retailer Odd Molly, Holknekt began legal proceedings in July 2022 against Kindred Group and its relationship with subsidiary Trannel Ltd.

Holknekt claimed that he was a VIP customer of Unibet, and had been ‘aggressively marketed’ during the period from 2005 to 2019, in which he claimed to have deposited over SEK 55m (€5m) and lost more than SEK 26m (€2.3m).

Filing the lawsuit, Holknekt sought SEK 10m (€1m) in damages from Kindred. Holknekt had stated to the media that money had not been his objective in suing Kindred as he wanted to demonstrate the unscrupulous tactics of online gambling firms targeting vulnerable customers.

The District Court had been tasked to form an opinion on whether the rules of Sweden’s Gambling Act of 2018 could be applied to a legal challenge spanning activities prior to the adoption of new gambling laws in 2019.

Following its evaluation, the District Court ruled against Holknekt’s challenge, stating he had no agreement with the sued company, Kindred Group, but with a subsidiary, Unibet International Ltd/Trannel, that was not part of the lawsuit.

Of significance, the judgment highlighted uncertainties regarding the application of Swedish business law to Kindred as it is registered in Malta. Consequently, Holknekt was ordered to pay around SEK 2 million (€200,000) in legal costs to Kindred Group Plc.

The case is part of a broader context where the legal liabilities of gambling operators are increasingly scrutinized, especially concerning their responsibilities toward customers with gambling issues.

Customer liability has come to the forefront of the Swedish gambling agenda. In December, the Swedish Patent and Market Court of Appeal ordered Betsson AB to pay SEK 5.8m (€600,000) to a former customer for “aggravating his mental illness.”

The court ruled that Betsson had targeted the customer suffering from mental illness with “aggressive marketing offers” and that Betsson employees had encouraged him to continue to gamble.

In 2024, the Swedish government will implement new online gambling amendments from 1 April 2024, strengthening consumer protections and increasing fines for anti-money laundering (AML) infringements.

From 1 April 2024, online gambling licensees will be required to assess and analyze data concerning a player’s health and financial status, deemed necessary to “protect consumers from excessive gambling”.

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