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Norwegian Gaming Authority Locks Horns with Unlicensed Malta CasinosDoes the Norwegian Gaming Authority's threats of daily fines and other punitive measures against a Malta-based casino group have any merit under EU law? Especially since the group does not entice players from Norway in any way.
The Norwegian Gaming Authority (NGA) and Malta-based gaming group Kindred are once again at odds over the legalities of accepting players from Norway. The contention dates to 2019, when the gambling group received a cease-and-desist demand from the NGA for intentionally targeting local online gamblers without the required gambling license.
At the time, Kindred acquiesced, in no small part, due to the daily fine that the regulator intended to impose. The fine amounted to NOK 1.2 million (around €115,000). The regulator plans to calculate it daily for as long as the group falls afoul of marketing activities deemed to "intentionally target" Norwegian gamblers.
The Threat of Daily Fines Remerges
Earlier this month, the NGA informed the group that it would begin enforcing its punitive daily fines on the basis that the operator was still targeting Norwegian players and therefore was in breach of the country’s gambling monopoly.
However, Kindred challenged the NGA, arguing that they had complied with the guidelines provided to them by the regulator.
The changes they made to their online casino site include:
- Removing the Norwegian flag from all websites and marketing materials.
- Replacing all Norwegian text with English text.
- Renaming all casinos with Norwegian names with their English variants.
- No longer running any advertising campaigns in Norway.
They also noted that in addition to complying swiftly with these demands, the company had also submitted a formal licensing request which would allow it to participate legally in Norway.
Passive Player Acceptance is Legal
Despite wanting to collaborate with the NGA, the group was quick to show that they did not intend to let the regulator push them around.
A company representative pointed out that the changes enacted by the group were a show of good faith and that the NGA had no authority over them as they are a Maltese business and operate under a license from the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA).
They further stated that under the European Union's trade agreement, it is legal for Norwegian residents to play games of chance online at sites with EU/EEA licenses and adhere to accepted safer gambling standards.
In this instance, Kindred is not actively pursuing Norwegian players. Instead, it passively accepts registrations from players who seek out their services which is legal under EU regulations and in accordance with their MGA license.
Based on the analysis of the situation, the NGA is powerless to legally enforce its fines as Kindred does not fall under any Norwegian licensing agreements.
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