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The Stockholm District Court has ruled in Kindred’s favour after the business was sued by Per Holknekt, who now must pay SEK2m (€177,366) in legal fees.

The Swedish fashion entrepreneur sued Kindred in July 2022, claiming its Unibet brand targeted him with aggressive marketing despite his gambling addiction.

Holknekt sought SEK10m in damages from the operator. This is after he said he spent SEK26m with the business over a 15-year period.

Following a trial, which began last month, the court ruled in favour of Kindred. As such, Holknekt has been ordered to pay SEK2m to cover Kindred’s legal costs.

The court based its verdict on the fact Holknekt’s contract was with Unibet, which is owned by a subsidiary called Trannel, not Kindred Group itself.

“It has not been shown that Kindred Group has made any unauthorised profit through Per Holknekt’s gambling,” said the judgement.

“Even if one were to consider that Per Holknekt’s publicly held information could mean that his gambling agreement with Unibet International Ltd/Trannel was invalid/unfair… the contract law cannot in itself lead to another company being judged obliged to ‘repay’ any amount to him.”

The court also said it was unclear whether Kindred as a parent company is covered on Swedish business law as it is a foreign Malta-registered company.

Operators facing increased liability

The extent to which gambling operators face legal liability for their actions has become an important topic in recent years.

This ruling follows on from a December decision by the Swedish Patent and Market Court of Appeal, which held Kindred competitor Betsson liable for historic RG failures.

The case, which has now been appealed to the Supreme Court, saw the business ordered to pay SEK5.8m to a former VIP scheme member diagnosed with gambling addiction.

The case’s precedent led to Betsson’s stock crashing 8.3% in the initial aftermath of the ruling. The plaintiff’s lawyers were quoted speculating in the press that Betsson could ultimately be on the hook for hundreds of millions of kroner.

More broadly, many operators are facing legal judgements challenging revenue earned through European grey market activities.

Operators, including the likes of 888, have claimed their operations are still covered under European free movement of services rules despite the rise of locally regulated markets.

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