Kindred Faces Multimillion-Dollar Lawsuit for Targeting Polish Bettors
Global gaming giant Kindred is facing another in a long line of legal issues, this time in Poland. The country’s largest sports betting operator, STS Gaming Group, is on the attack, suing Kindred and its Unibet brand for operating illegally in the country.
Kindred and several of its subsidiaries are now veterans in legal affairs and probably won’t be phased by the latest attack. Just like what it dealt with in Norway, STS accuses it of operating illegally in Poland and wants it out.
Unibet was reportedly ordered to leave the country a year ago. However, STS alleges that it has continued to ignore the order. As such, it now wants the government to hit it where it hurts the most, the wallet.
Up To Its Old Tricks
When it was fighting Norway, Kindred argued that it didn’t have to leave because it held a license in Malta. That, it stated, was enough to give it access to all of the European Union).
It later backed down and agreed to stop actively targeted Norwegian consumers. But it has apparently been following the same playbook for its Polish operations. A report on the Polish version of news media website Interplay late last month said that Unibet continues to serve the country openly, despite not having a license from the Ministry of Finance.
STS points out that the Unibet website is available in Polish. In addition, the domain has changed names many times after previous names landed in the Register of Illegal Operators. This, it asserts, only shows that Kindred has violated many provisions of Poland’s Gambling Act.
In addition, Unibet’s activity also puts Polish players at risk, according to STS. It alleges that Unibet claims to have an “international license,” which the rival says doesn’t exist.
Polish law states that the government could fine Unibet PLN28.9 million (US$6.3 million) if the court agrees with STS’s arguments. The first step is to serve Unibet with the court papers, which is turning into a larger ordeal than expected.
Kindred reportedly refused to accept the court documents because they’re in Polish. Since Kindred allegedly doesn’t have a Polish-speaking team and because its headquarters are in Malta, it has no ability to read foreign language documents.
STS isn’t the only company going after Kindred for allegedly operating illegally in Poland. Other operators there are reportedly going to seek legal redress.
Kindred Not Afraid To Push The Envelope
In addition to Norway and Poland, Kindred has had issues complying with regulations in other countries. This past August, the Ontario Alcohol and Gaming Commission (AGCO) fined it for violating gambling laws, and late last year, the Danish regulator found Unibet in violation of anti-money laundering (AML) rules.
In July, Swedish fashion mogul Per Holknekt sued the company. The founder of online clothing shop Odd Molly is seeking SEK10.2 million (US$980,220) because Unibet didn’t stop him from gambling.
The amount is how much he lost as he was battling with gambling addiction, which he says the company should have recognized. The suit is still open.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Sweden’s gaming regulator hit Kindred with a SEK10.9 million (US$1.04 million) fine for AML failings. At the same time that it keeps receiving fines, it also boasts of its position on safer gambling.
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