Kindred Group is battling a lawsuit from a prominent fashion designer in Sweden. Per Holknekt is seeking SEK10m (USA$1m) in damages, claiming that the gambling group and its subsidiary Spooniker Ltd contributed to his addiction. The lawsuit hearing began on Tuesday in the Stockholm District Court.
lost more than SEK26m (US$2.5m) on Unibet
The Odd Molly clothing brand founder lost as much as SEK100m (US$9.5m) gambling on 30 different online platforms. Holknekt liked using Kindred brands the most and said he lost more than SEK26m (US$2.5m) on Unibet between 2005 and 2019. In one month alone he spent SEK2.7m (US$257,897).
The majority of the events that Holknekt describes in the lawsuit took place before Sweden’s new Gambling Act came into place in 2019; he believes that Kindred violated the previous laws. The 63-year-old has not gambled since 2018.
The designer explained that in certain moments of desperation when he vowed to quit gambling, he would receive a phone call within a couple of days from a Unibet representative who would tell him they had credited his account with bonus money. He believes that the operator was afraid that he had moved to a competing platform. Kindred contested on Tuesday that Holknekt was never a VIP customer, while he said that GDPR excerpts refute this statement.
There is a track record of customers who lost big sums of money gambling online in Sweden receiving damages from the operator. Betsson AB has to pay a former customer SEK5.8m (US$554,000) for “aggravating his mental illness” following a decision in December by the Swedish Patent and Market Appeal Court.
The ruling states that the operator targeted the customer with aggressive marketing and that the staff encouraged him to keep gambling. His lawyer was able to show that the gambling company knew about his serious gambling problem. Holknekt welcomed this decision and also noted that similar judgments have taken place across Europe.
A potentially landmark case
Holknekt has pushed for gambling reform over the years in Sweden. He reportedly compiled a long list of irregularities and deficiencies within Kindred platforms after filing the lawsuit in the summer of 2022. The designer worked alongside data experts to identify how the gambling group allegedly exploits problem gamblers and does not meet its anti-money laundering obligations.
The Swedish government will be implementing new rules in April that will bolster protections for gamblers and introduce higher fines for operators that have anti-money laundering failings.
Holknekt believes that a positive ruling would mean that other people who lost money through platforms that were operating in Sweden before the regulated market launched would be entitled to their money back. These types of rulings are already happening in Germany and Austria. Holknekt is also working on building an app that will allow people to block unlicensed gambling platforms.
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