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Shares in Kindred Group traded 10% higher this morning (8 June) after the operator was granted a licence to return to the Netherlands.

The group has received approval from the Netherlands Gambling Authority (Kansspelautoriteit) to offer commercial online gambling and betting under the Remote Gambling Act, effective today.

Kindred now expects to launch its Unibet.nl Dutch-targeted website in the coming days, following an eight-month absence from the market. The country’s first regulated online gambling operators went live on 3 October. 

Kindred has become the 19th company to launch in the market with a licence. However, it will not be able to reactivate its previous customer database and will be playing catch-up to a host of licensed rivals, including bet365.

Meanwhile, Betsson Group and Entain are among several firms still awaiting licence approval to return to the Dutch market.

Withdrawal from the Dutch market has had a serious impact on Kindred’s financial performance and share price for several quarters now.

The firm said in 2021 that while it was unable to offer services to customers in the Netherlands, its EBITDA figures would face a negative impact of around £12m per month, representing some 30% of total group EBITDA.

Its Q3 2021 results – which showed year-on-year revenue growth of 6.3% – were accompanied by a warning to shareholders that Q4 would see a quarter-on-quarter downturn in group GGR between 12% and 26%.

Indeed, Q4 GGR was down some 19% on the previous quarter at £240.5m, while Kindred’s Q1 2022 results – again preceded by a profit warning – came to £247m, compared to £352.6m in the prior-year comparative period.

These lacklustre results took their toll on Kindred’s share price, with its 52-week high price of SEK168.90 still more than 50% ahead of today’s price, and more than double its 52-week low of SEK74.30.

Kindred Group CEO Henrik Tjärnström said: “The Netherlands is a large and important European market and one that we look forward to operating in with a local licence.”

Commenting on the award of its Dutch licence, Kindred Group CEO Henrik Tjärnström said: “The Netherlands is a large and important European market and one that we look forward to operating in with a local licence.

“We have been advocating local licence schemes for the past decade, and are thrilled that our newly awarded licence in the Netherlands will allow us to deepen and develop our involvement in the Dutch society, as well as actively contribute to a fair and sustainable gambling market.”

Anne-Jaap Snijders, Kindred Group’s chief commercial officer, added: “We are fully committed to establish Kindred’s role as a responsible, trustworthy and valuable gambling operator on the Dutch market through our flagship brand Unibet. 

“Our corporate purpose to ‘transform gambling by being a trusted source of entertainment that contributes positively to society’ sits at the heart of our ‘Unibet Impact’ programme which is solely dedicated to foster a safer and more responsible online gambling industry. We want to convey entertainment to the Dutch society and are very keen on bringing the joy and excitement of sports to everyone.”

The Stockholm-listed operator will host a Capital Markets Day event in London on 14 September to explain its long-term Netherlands strategy to investors.

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