Kindred Group contests Norway regulator’s Apple App Store ban

The governance of Stockholm-listed European online gambling operator Kindred Group Plc has moved to file a lawsuit against Lotteri-og Stiftelsestilsynet (Lotteritilsynet) – Norway’s national gambling and lottery authority.

Kindred has accused Lotteritilsynet of conducting unfair restrictions and regulatory overreach on its business services, including the blocking payment transfers and sanctioning a ban on Kindred apps listing on the Apple App Store for Norway.

The lawsuit against Lotteritilsynet is filed by Kindred Group’s Malta MGA holding company Trannel International Ltd, with Kindred governance represented by Oslo law firm Glittertind AS.

Anders Ryssdal, Partner at Glittertind, has confirmed to Norwegian national broadcaster NRK (NRK.no) that Kindred ‘has no choice but to move ahead with its lawsuit’, stating that his client’s services had been unfairly targeted by Lotteritilsynet actions.

During H1 2018 trading, a Norwegian ‘parliamentary coalition’ demanded that an under pressure Lotteritilsynet significantly toughen its stance on unlicensed online gambling operators deemed to be targeting Norway’s consumers and undermining the funding of state-owned gambling enterprises Norsk Rikstoto and Norsk Tipping.

Lotteritilsynet would enforce its strictest controls to date on bank/payment transfers, IP blocking, penalties, and further advertising restrictions, which saw the regulator demand that tech giant Apple remove all-gambling related apps from its Norway App Store (August 2018).

In its filing, Kindred and Glittertind state that Lotteritilsynet actions had ‘exceeded its power of attorney’ by involving Apple a US technology firm to sanction a restriction aiding its own political purposes.

With regards to payments, Glittertind charges Lotteritilsynet of ‘overreach in its regulatory conduct’, stating that it had enforced unfair blocks on a number ‘foreign intermediaries’ processing transactions with Norwegian banks, a service which does not infringe on Lotteritilsynet gambling monopoly framework.

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