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Kindred Group has secured a partial victory in a Swedish court amid an ongoing four-year dispute over a sanction fee issued by the Swedish Gambling Authority (SGA).

In 2020, the SGA hit Kindred with a hefty SEK100m (€8.7m) administrative fine for breaching regulations relating to customer bonus offers.

The Administrative Court in Jönköping, Sweden, reduced the fee to SEK50m in 2021, and the Administrative Court of Appeal slashed it further to SEK30m yesterday (27 May).

Kindred Group, however, insists that the sanction fee should be fully revoked.

Dispute background

The fine came after the SGA found that promotions offered to existing customers by Kindred subsidiary Spooniker constituted financial incentives and therefore qualified as bonuses under the Swedish Gambling Act, which took effect on 1 January 2019.

While Swedish regulations stipulate that players can only receive bonuses upon sign-up, Kindred had offered various promotions related to customer acquisition and a loyalty programme in March 2019.

When questioned by the SGA, Kindred argued that these promotions did not qualify as bonuses, as they lacked financial incentives and were more akin to in-game mechanics.

Subsequent checks in May and June of that year revealed similar offers including free spins, free online bingo games, free bets, and poker rewards.

Kindred contended that it had initially interpreted the definition of bonuses differently from the regulator, but had adopted a more restrictive approach to promotions since spring 2019 to comply with regulatory expectations.

Ambiguously worded

At the time of the sanction, Kindred argued that the new legislation was ambiguously worded, leading to differing interpretations.

Kindred said it appealed the decision to seek clarity on legislative requirements.

Yesterday, the operator maintained that due to the original vagueness of the rules, the sanction fee should be fully rescinded.

A Kindred spokesperson informed NEXT.io that the company was still reviewing the court decision and evaluating its options for further action.

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