Date: 29.05.2024

by Adam Dworak

Kindred’s SEK100m Fine for Unauthorised Bonuses Reduced to SEK30m

In March 2020, Sweden’s gambling regulator Spelinspektionen issued Kindred a fine and penalty for offering unauthorised bonuses and lotteries without a licence. Initially set at SEK100 million, the penalty referenced the operator’s activities on several of its platforms, including Unibet, Maria Casino, Storspelare, Bingo, and iGame websites.

Unauthorised Bonuses Uncovered

Swedish regulations permit licensees to offer only sign-up bonuses to customers, prohibiting all other offers. However, checks on Kindred-owned websites in March 2019 uncovered various unauthorised bonuses, including an online bingo loyalty scheme. Kindred argued these should not be considered bonuses but rather in-game mechanics. Despite this, further checks in May and June 2019 revealed additional offers such as free spins, free online bingo, and free bets.

Moreover, Kindred was found to be offering rewards for playing poker, including prize draws. Spelinspektionen deemed these to be lottery games, for which Kindred was not licensed. These findings led to the imposition of a SEK100 million penalty fee and an official warning to the operator.

Kindred’s Appeals and Court Decisions

In response to the penalty, Kindred filed an appeal with the Administrative Court in Linköping. In July 2021, the court decided to reduce the fine, halving it to SEK50 million. The court acknowledged the multiple serious bonus failings but determined that a “medium-high penalty fee” was more appropriate. Fines in Sweden are based on an operator’s turnover, which, combined with the seriousness of the offences, initially justified the high penalty fee issued by Spelinspektionen.

Recently, the same Administrative Court in Linköping further reduced the fee, bringing the total down to SEK30 million. In its ruling, the court considered Kindred’s argument that the rules on bonuses were vague and open to interpretation. Kindred also noted that after initial contact from the regulator, it adjusted its offerings to comply with the requirements.

Kindred’s Response and Spelinspektionen’s Position

Following the court’s decision, Kindred reiterated its stance that the rules on bonuses were not clearly defined. The company maintained that the penalty fee should be reduced further, citing its prompt action to amend its offerings following the regulator’s initial contact.

Spelinspektionen has yet to comment on the further reduced penalty fee. The regulator’s initial position underscored the seriousness of Kindred’s offences and justified the high penalty fee based on the operator’s turnover and the gravity of the violations.