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Kindred historic Sweden fine reduced to SEK30m

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The Administrative Court of Appeal in Jönköping has ordered a historic fine for the Spooniker subsidiary of Kindred to be reduced for the second time, with the amount now being set at SEK30m (£2.2m/€2.6m/$2.8m).

Sweden gambling regulator Spelinspektionen first issued Kindred with a fine and penalty in March 2020. At the time, the penalty fee, referencing offering unauthorised bonuses and lotteries without a licence, was set at SEK100m.

Licensees in Sweden can only offer sign-up bonuses to customers, with all other offers being prohibited. However, checks on Kindred-owned Unibet, Maria Casino, Storspelare, Bingo and iGame websites in March 2019 uncovered various unauthorised bonuses. These included an online bingo loyalty scheme.

Kindred hit back, arguing these should not be considered bonuses and were instead an in-game mechanic. However, further checks in May and June 2019 uncovered more offers, such as free spins, free online bingo and free bets. 

In addition, Kindred was found to be offering rewards for playing poker including prize draws, which Spelinspektionen said Kindred was not licensed to offer as this was deemed a type of lottery game.

The findings led Spelinspektionen to issue the SEK100m penalty fee and an official warning to the operator.

Second reduction for Kindred

In response, Kindred filed an appeal with the Administrative Court in Linköping. Incidentally, the court in July 2021 chose to reduce the fine, slashing it in half to SEK50m. 

Ruling on the case, the court agreed with Spelinspektionen there were multiple serious bonus failings but also said a “medium-high penalty fee” was more appropriate. Fines in Sweden are based on an operator’s turnover. This, combined with the seriousness of the offences, led to Spelinspektionen initially issuing a “high penalty fee” to Kindred.

Now, the same Administrative Court in Linköping has ruled that the fee should be reduced further. The new total facing Kindred is SEK30m.

Responding to the decision, Kindred reiterated its ongoing argument that it is of the opinion since the rules on bonuses were vague and open for interpretation, the sanction fee should be reduced in its total. It also noted that after initial contact from the regulator, it changed its offerings to meet the requirements. 

Spelinspektionen is yet to comment on the further reduced penalty fee.

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