Rolf Sims, Public Affairs Manager for Kindred Group, has accused the Norwegian Gaming Authority (NGA) of violating fundamental rights over its threat to fine Trannel International Ltd.
On 11 February, the NGA, which supervises and controls all private and state operated operators in Norway, issued a notice to Trannel, warning the Kindred subsidiary that it faces a fine of NOK 437m (€43.2m) if it does not stop its ‘illegal gaming offer’ in the country.
Currently, only state-owned Norsk Tipping and private trust Norsk Rikstoto are licensed to offer and market gambling under the Norwegian Gambling Act. Therefore, as a result of its accessibility to Norwegian customers, Trannel’s services have been deemed illegal by the Norwegian authorities.
“It is, however, not illegal for Norwegian customers to accept and participate in cross-border services, like Trannel’s,” Sims commented. “Furthermore, in failing to organise 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, essentially, Trannel were told to cease the use of its services by Norwegians, a request that was considered ‘unlawful’.
“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,” Sims added.
“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.”
Trannel’s appeal against the 2019 order is currently under review by Norwegian courts, with no decision yet reached to actually order it to pay any penalties.
“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,” Sims concluded.