Lottstift, Norway’s gambling authority, has claimed a ‘decisive victory’ in its long-running dispute against Trannel International Limited – the Nordic markets subsidiary of Kindred Group Plc.
On 1 June, the Borgarting Court of Appeal upheld Lottstift’s original judgement that the Trannel brands of Unibet, Mariacasino, Storspiller, and Bingo.com had offered illicit online gambling services to national consumers.
The verdict sees Lottstift state that it has put-to-end a five-year legal dispute with Kindred Group, in which Norwegian courts have validated its methods to protect the market from illicit businesses.
As such, Lottstift “solidifies the expectation for Trannel to completely withdraw from the Norwegian market, marking an essential moment in the country’s crackdown on illegal gambling”.
Defending Trannel, Kindred had long argued that Lottstift held no definitive legal precedent under Norwegian or European Economic Area (EEA) laws to restrict its subsidiary business.
In addition, Kindred had stated that it had followed all Norwegian gambling rules to ensure that its business had a minimum exposure to national consumers.
Atle Hamar, Lottstift Regulatory Director, commented: “The fact that Trannel is not supported on a single point of view, shows that the work we do to get illegal companies out of the Norwegian market is solid and well-established.”
The authority cites that “the judgment unequivocally lends support to the Norwegian exclusive rights model and demonstrates its accordance with EEA law”.
Of significance, Lottstift states that Kindred has been mandated to bear the legal costs incurred by the state in this litigation.
In its original dispute, Lottstift had imposed a hefty daily fine of NOK 1.2 million (€100,000) on Trannel until it fully exited the market.
Implementation of the fine was delayed until December 2022, but neither the Ministry of Culture and Equality nor the Lottery Board accepted Trannel’s to ‘passively accept Norweigian customers’ by temporarily withdrawing its brand from Norway.
Culture and Equality Minister Anette Trettebergstuen acknowledged the state’s victory, “The result is not exactly surprising, as this lawsuit joins the series of several other lawsuits in the gambling field where the state has been fully supported each time.”
“The latest decision by the Borgarting Court of Appeal rejecting Trannel’s appeal reaffirms the validity of the Norwegian Lottery Authority’s actions and the necessity of regulating the gambling market to protect consumers and uphold legal and ethical standards.”