Kindred Group Fined $10m by Swedish Gambling Regulator

  • Group's subsidiary Spooniker hit with SEK100m fine from Spelinspektionen
  • Numerous unauthorized bonuses were offered through its website in 2019
  • Brand also carried games that were not covered by its gambling license 
  • Swedish regulator will issue no further punishments, Kindred Group plans to appeal fine
yellow signs reading fine
A Kindred Group subsidiary got fined $10m by the Swedish gambling regulator for offering unauthorized bonuses and games. [Image:]

Subsidiary hit with hefty fine

Spelinspektionen, the gambling regulator in Sweden, has hit Kindred Group’s subsidiary Spooniker with a SEK100m ($10m) fine. The brand’s website was reportedly offering unauthorized online bonuses to its Sweden-based customers. 

offenses took place during the first six months of 2019

The alleged offenses took place during the first six months of 2019 when the licensed online gambling market in Sweden was first opened. As per the country’s rules, each customer is only able to get an initial welcome bonus.

Spooniker is a Kindred Group subsidiary that holds gambling licenses in Sweden for the likes of Unibet, Storspelare, and Maria Casino.

Unauthorized bonuses and games

In a March 2019 review of the Spooniker website, Spelinspektionen found that different unauthorized bonuses were being offered to account holders in Sweden. The same bonuses were still available during further checks held in May and June of the same year.

The Spooniker site also carried certain games that were not allowable under its gambling license.

Plans to appeal penalty

The Kindred Group plans to appeal Spelinspektionen’s decision and will be seeking legal guidance on the issue. In a press release, it said, “Until sentenced warnings and penalty fees are tried in court and gained legal force, Kindred retains its restrictive interpretation.”

In response to the allegations made at the time, Spooniker said it had a more broad interpretation of the definition of a bonus under the country’s laws. However, the authorities disputed its interpretation.

no further punishments to Spooniker aside from a warning and the fine

Since the discovery of the breaches, the operator has implemented Spelinspektionen’s interpretation of the law and made the necessary changes. The Swedish gambling authority will hand out no further punishments to Spooniker aside from a warning and the fine. It is confident that there will not be any further violations in the future.

Tough stance in Sweden

The gambling regulator in Sweden has taken no prisoners since the licensed online gambling sector opened on January 1, 2019. It issued $12.5m worth of fines to 18 different operators in the first year. The majority of the operators decided to appeal the fines and challenged the decisions in court. Some of the appeals were successful.

Many gambling businesses believe the gambling laws in Sweden are too vague and open to interpretation, which has caused confusion among operators.

Not a first for Kindred Group

Some brands that are part of the Kindred group of companies have a track record of getting in trouble with the authorities in recent times. In April 2019, Unibet was found to have broken UK laws relating to the targeting of children with advertisements. Later in August, the brand was fined by the Dutch gambling regulator for illegally targeting residents with its online gambling platform. The penalty was appealed.

There has also been controversy over publicity stunts involving 32Red, the Kindred-owned company that aided the signing of Wayne Rooney to Derby County FC. 

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