Unveiling Kindred Group: A Comprehensive Review of ESG and Ethical Practices

In this review, we delve into the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) practices of Kindred Group, shedding light on its approach towards sustainability and corporate responsibility. Published by Better World Casinos, this analysis aims to provide a comprehensive assessment of the company’s transparency, ESG strategy, sanctions, controversies, and public ratings. By examining publicly available information, this “Tier 2” review seeks to offer valuable insights into Kindred Group’s performance in key areas of environmental stewardship, social impact, and corporate governance.

Last updated  22nd February, 2024

In this review, we focus on answering:

  1. How transparent is the company?
  2. Does it have an ESG strategy?
  3. Has the company been sanctioned and/or has there been any controversies?
  4. Has the company any public rating? 

BWC Sustainability score: 

While BWC has provided a preliminary sustainability scorecard for Kindred Group, it’s important to note that the evaluation process is ongoing and evolving. The scorecard serves as an initial assessment based on key criteria identified during research. BWC is continuously refining its evaluation framework to ensure consistency, accuracy, and fairness across all assessments. The ultimate goal is to develop a robust and transparent scoring system that enables meaningful comparisons and insights into companies’ social, environmental, and governance performance.

Disclosure:

Better World Casinos (BWC) presents this review as an independent analysis. Presently, BWC has no affiliation with Kindred Group or its associated brands. The methodology used in this review includes an assessment of available information, reports, and disclosures by Kindred Group. BWC has reached out to Kindred Group for feedback on this preliminary ESG assessment and has extended an invitation for them to clarify or add to the findings. We hope that will be sorted soon and that we will be given the opportunity to talk to them regarding their ESG performance and ambitions in order to determine how much of a sustainable gambling company they are and how they contribute to society.

To stay up to date on BWC latest reviews and updates, subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on X (fka Twitter) and other social media channels.

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Company Overview

Name Kindred
Company Type Publicly owned: traded at Nasdaq Stockholm
Location(s) Australia, Belgium, the British Virgin Islands, Estonia, France, Gibraltar, Great Britain, Italy, Malta (HQ) and Sweden regions.
Products Sportsbook, poker, and casino 
Brands
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  • Casinohuone
  • Storspelare
  • Kolikkopelit
  • Maria Casino
  • Highroller
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  • Unibet
Licences Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States, Italy, France, Sweden, Denmark,
Keymarkets Europe, Australia, North America
ESG/Sustainability Report Yes
Reporting standard
  • GRI
  • CDP 
  • TCFD
  • MSCI in terms of ESG rating
  • CSRD for the 2025 annual sustainability report (based on the 2024 calendar year)

About the Company

Kindred Group, a publicly traded company listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange, operates in the online gambling sector. Founded in 1997 and headquartered in Malta, the company offers a range of online gambling services including sports betting, casino games, poker, and bingo. With operations in various markets across Europe, the UK, Scandinavia, and selected states in the US, Kindred Group holds licenses from reputable regulatory bodies such as the Malta Gaming Authority, the UK Gambling Commission, and others.

As part of its commitment to transparency and sustainability, Kindred Group publishes an ESG/Sustainability report as part of its annual reports and communications. The company’s reporting standards align with its internal ESG framework, which incorporates recognized standards such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

Key Performance Indicators (KPI)

Financial Performance:

  • Revenue Growth:
    • 2023 Total Revenue: GBP 1,210.5 million
      • Comparison: Increased by 13% from 2022 (GBP 1,068.7 million)
    • Fourth Quarter (Q4) 2023 Revenue: GBP 312.9 million
      • Comparison: Increased by 2% from Q4 2022 (GBP 305.5 million)
  • Profitability:
    • Underlying EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization):
      • 2023: GBP 204.5 million
        • Comparison: Increased by 58% from 2022 (GBP 129.2 million)
      • Fourth Quarter (Q4) 2023: GBP 56.8 million
        • Comparison: Increased by 45% from Q4 2022 (GBP 39.1 million)
  • Investment in Sustainability:
    • Details on specific investments in sustainability initiatives were not provided in the report.

Financial Performance Summary:

  • Revenue Growth: Kindred Group saw steady growth in revenue, with a 13% increase from 2022, reaching GBP 1,210.5 million for the full year 2023. This growth was also reflected in the fourth quarter, with revenue reaching GBP 312.9 million, a 2% increase from the same period in 2022.
  • Profitability: The company’s profitability, as measured by Underlying EBITDA, experienced significant improvement. Underlying EBITDA for 2023 was GBP 204.5 million, marking a substantial 58% increase from the previous year. In the fourth quarter alone, Underlying EBITDA was GBP 56.8 million, up by 45% from Q4 2022.
  • Investment in Sustainability: Specific details on investments made towards sustainability initiatives were not provided in the report. This indicates a potential area for further disclosure in future reports to showcase the company’s commitment to sustainability efforts.

Financial Performance – Key Figures (GBP million)

Metric 2023 2022 Q4 2023 Q4 2022
Revenue 1,210.5 1,068.7 312.9 305.5
Underlying EBITDA 204.5 129.2 56.8 39.1

Kindred Group’s financial performance demonstrates strong revenue growth and improved profitability, showcasing its ability to operate profitably within regulated markets. The substantial increase in Underlying EBITDA indicates effective cost management and operational efficiency, contributing to the company’s overall success in 2023. Further details on sustainability investments could provide stakeholders with a more comprehensive view of Kindred Group’s commitment to environmental and social responsibility.

Environmental Performance

Emissions

Kindred Group has made significant strides in reducing its environmental impact, especially regarding carbon emissions. The company’s commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by fiscal year 2027, with a base year of fiscal year 2019, is backed by concrete initiatives:

  • Carbon Neutrality Commitment:
    • Kindred Group has pledged to achieve carbon neutrality, aiming to reduce its carbon footprint through various measures.
    • The company has set a target to reduce absolute Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 90% by 2027 from the 2019 baseline. In 2022, Scope 1 emissions decreased from 97.2 to 52.5 tonnes CO2e, and Scope 2 emissions reduced from 1,226.5 to 1,041.3 tonnes CO2e.
  • Renewable Energy:
    • Kindred Group is actively investing in renewable energy sources to power its operations, aiming to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
    • By transitioning to renewable energy, the company is not only reducing its carbon footprint but also contributing to the growth of clean energy.
  • Waste Management:
    • The company has implemented waste reduction and recycling programs across its operations.
    • These initiatives are designed to minimize waste generation, promote recycling, and overall, reduce its environmental footprint.

Social Impact

Internal Initiatives

Kindred Group prioritizes the well-being and diversity of its workforce, recognizing the importance of a positive internal environment:

  • Employee Well-being:
    • The company offers extensive support programs and resources for employee well-being, covering areas such as mental health, work-life balance, and professional development.
    • Employee reviews on Glassdoor indicate a positive sentiment, with an 77% recommendation rate and a 4.0 rating.
  • Diversity and Inclusion:
    • Kindred Group boasts a diverse workforce of 1,984 employees representing over 60 nationalities across 12 locations in 2022.
    • The company aims for a 50:50 gender balance in leadership positions and reports progress in senior and executive management roles.

External Initiatives

Externally, Kindred Group is dedicated to responsible gambling practices and community engagement:

  • Responsible Gambling Measures:
    • The Journey Towards Zero initiative focuses on eliminating revenue from harmful gambling, guided by a panel of experts.
    • Kindred Group publishes reliable metrics for the Swedish market, demonstrating its commitment to transparency.
  • Community Engagement:
    • Kindred United, an employee-led initiative, engages in volunteering activities, supporting local communities and achieving positive local engagement.
    • The company actively engages with local communities through charitable donations, sponsorships, and community outreach programs.
  • Responsible Marketing:
    • Adhering to responsible marketing practices, Kindred Group ensures its promotional activities are ethical and compliant with regulatory standards.
    • This includes responsible advertising and communication to promote safe and responsible gaming behavior.

Governance and Compliance

Ethical Standards and Governance Framework

Kindred Group maintains high ethical standards and a robust governance framework to ensure accountability and transparency:

  • Code of Conduct:
    • The company has a comprehensive code of conduct outlining ethical principles and guidelines for business conduct.
    • Employees are expected to adhere to these standards in their daily operations.
  • Anti-Corruption Measures:
    • Kindred Group has strict anti-corruption policies and controls in place to prevent bribery and unethical behavior.
    • Compliance with UK legislation on the Corporate Criminal Offence of Failure to Prevent the Facilitation of Tax Evasion is reported.
  • Sustainability Charter:
    • The company has developed a sustainability charter that articulates its commitment to environmental stewardship and social responsibility.
    • This charter serves as a guiding framework for the company’s sustainability initiatives and practices.
  • Tax Policies:
    • Kindred Group adheres to rigorous tax compliance policies and practices responsible tax planning.
    • The company seeks to minimize tax risks while ensuring compliance with relevant regulations.
  • CEO Compensation:
    • Executive compensation practices at Kindred Group are designed to align with long-term value creation and sustainability goals.
    • This ensures that executive leadership is incentivized to prioritize sustainability and corporate responsibility.

Corporate Structure

Organizational Setup

Kindred Group operates within a well-defined corporate structure to facilitate effective governance and operational management:

  • Divisions and Departments:
    • Various divisions within Kindred Group focus on different product lines and geographical markets.
    • Departments such as marketing, finance, operations, and compliance work collaboratively to support business objectives.
  • Subsidiaries:
    • Kindred Group may have subsidiary companies operating in different jurisdictions or engaged in complementary business activities.
    • These subsidiaries contribute to the overall business strategy and diversification of the company’s portfolio.

Committees

To support its governance framework, Kindred Group has established specialized committees responsible for key areas:

  • Audit Committee:
    • Oversees financial reporting, internal controls, and risk management processes.
    • Ensures transparency and accuracy in financial operations.
  • Nominations Committee:
    • Recommends suitable candidates for board positions and assesses board member qualifications.
    • Facilitates the selection of competent and diverse board members.
  • Remuneration Committee:
    • Determines executive compensation to align with company performance and shareholder interests.
    • Ensures that executive pay is tied to sustainable business practices and long-term value creation.

This comprehensive approach to environmental and social responsibility, combined with strong governance practices, positions Kindred Group as a leader in sustainable business practices within the gaming industry.

Sanctions, Controversies, and Concerns

Despite its commitment to responsible gambling and compliance, Kindred Group has faced several controversies and regulatory challenges, drawing scrutiny from various authorities.

Sanctions by Swedish Gambling Authority (SGA)

  • March 2020 Sanction:
  • November 2022 Warning Fee:
    • Following the 2020 sanction, Kindred Group faced another penalty from the SGA in November 2022.
    • This time, the warning fee amounted to 10.9 million SEK (approximately £0.8 million), suggesting continued issues or non-compliance with Swedish gambling regulations.
    • The consecutive penalties within a relatively short timeframe indicate ongoing challenges in meeting regulatory standards.

Legal Troubles in Norway

  • Legal Issues:
    • Kindred Group has encountered legal troubles in Norway, a market with strict regulations concerning online gambling.
    • Norway has taken a stringent stance against unauthorized gambling operators, leading to legal battles for companies like Kindred.
    • These legal challenges likely involve efforts by Norwegian authorities to enforce their gambling laws and prevent unauthorized operators from targeting Norwegian consumers.

UK Gambling Commission Fine (March 2023)

  • AML and Social Responsibility Failures:
    • In March 2023, the UK Gambling Commission, a prominent regulatory authority, imposed a fine on Kindred Group.
    • The fine was issued for Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and social responsibility failures.
    • AML failures suggest deficiencies in the company’s measures to prevent money laundering activities within its operations.
    • Social responsibility failures indicate shortcomings in ensuring the well-being of customers, particularly regarding responsible gambling practices.

Impact and Response

  • Reputational Damage:
    • These controversies and regulatory penalties can lead to reputational damage for Kindred Group.
    • Negative publicity and scrutiny from authorities may erode trust among stakeholders, including customers and investors.
  • Compliance Efforts:
    • In response to these challenges, Kindred Group is likely intensifying its compliance efforts and strengthening its internal controls.
    • Enhanced measures for responsible gambling, AML compliance, and regulatory adherence are crucial to address the issues highlighted by regulators.
  • Financial Implications:
    • The significant fines and penalties imposed by regulatory bodies can have financial implications for the company.
    • These costs may impact profitability and financial performance in the short term, necessitating careful financial management and mitigation strategies.
  • Long-Term Strategy:
    • Kindred Group’s response to these controversies will likely involve a comprehensive review of its operations and policies.
    • A renewed commitment to compliance, enhanced training programs, and closer collaboration with regulatory authorities may be part of its long-term strategy.
    • Building a culture of compliance and responsible gambling will be essential to regain trust and maintain its position as a reputable player in the industry.

Awards and Recognition

Kindred Group’s commitment to excellence and social responsibility has earned the company notable recognition and awards in recent years.

Career Companies of the Year 2022 (Sweden)

  • Awarded Title:
    • Kindred Group was honored with the title of “Sweden’s Career Companies of the Year 2022.”
    • This prestigious award acknowledges the company’s dedication to fostering a positive work environment and promoting employee growth and development.
    • The recognition reflects Kindred’s efforts in creating opportunities for career advancement and supporting its workforce.

Most Impactful Social Responsibility Initiative Award

  • Casino Guru Award Recognition 2023:
    • Kindred Group received the “Most Impactful Social Responsibility Initiative” award.
    • This accolade highlights the company’s significant contributions and efforts in the realm of social responsibility.
    • By implementing impactful initiatives and programs, Kindred Group has demonstrated a commitment to making a positive difference in society.

Impact and Significance

  • Validation of Efforts:
    • These awards serve as validation of Kindred Group’s efforts in various domains, including workplace culture, social responsibility, and sustainability.
    • Recognition from reputable institutions and award bodies reinforces the company’s position as a leader in responsible business practices.
  • Enhanced Reputation:
    • Awards such as “Career Companies of the Year” and “Most Impactful Social Responsibility Initiative” contribute to enhancing Kindred’s reputation among stakeholders.
    • Customers, investors, and employees are likely to view the company favorably due to its demonstrated commitment to excellence and positive impact.
  • Motivation and Inspiration:
    • Such recognitions also motivate and inspire Kindred Group to continue its initiatives and strive for further excellence.
    • The awards act as catalysts for continuous improvement and innovation within the company’s operations and social initiatives.

Kindred Group’s receipt of awards such as “Sweden’s Career Companies of the Year 2022” and the “Most Impactful Social Responsibility Initiative” award underscores its commitment to fostering a positive workplace culture and making a meaningful impact on society. These accolades not only validate the company’s efforts but also contribute to its reputation as a socially responsible and forward-thinking organization in the industry.

UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Kindred Group contributes to several UN SDGs

  • Goal 3 (Good Health and Well-being): Through responsible gambling initiatives and reliable metrics, Kindred Group promotes the well-being of its customers.
  • Goal 4 (Quality Education): The company supports diversity and inclusion, fostering a multicultural workforce across its locations.
  • Goal 5 (Gender Equality): With a commitment to achieving a 50:50 gender balance in leadership, Kindred Group actively promotes gender equality.
  • Goal 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth): Creating a positive work environment, the company’s initiatives contribute to decent work and economic growth.
  • Goal 10 (Reduced Inequality): Kindred Group’s commitment to diversity and inclusion works towards reducing inequality within the organization.
  • Goal 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production): Climate targets, waste reduction, and carbon offsetting initiatives align with responsible consumption and production.
  • Goal 13 (Climate Action): Ambitious climate targets, reduced emissions, and carbon offsetting efforts contribute to addressing climate change.
  • Goal 17 (Partnerships for the Goals): Engaging in partnerships with various organizations, Kindred Group collaborates to achieve sustainable development goals.

Kindred Group’s commitment to these UN SDGs demonstrates its holistic approach to sustainability and responsible business practices. By actively engaging in initiatives that align with these goals, the company not only contributes to a better environment and society but also sets an example for the industry. From promoting well-being and diversity to reducing its carbon footprint and fostering partnerships, Kindred Group plays a significant role in advancing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Answering the initial questions :

  1. Transparency: Kindred Group showcases a commendable level of transparency through its sustainability reporting, adherence to governance norms, and clear disclosure of environmental initiatives. However, providing more detailed information on waste and water management practices could further enhance transparency and give stakeholders a more comprehensive view of its operations.
  2. ESG Strategy: The company has a robust ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) strategy evident in its ambitious climate targets, responsible gambling measures, and commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion within its workforce. These initiatives align with global sustainability goals and demonstrate a proactive approach to corporate responsibility.
  3. Sanctions and Controversies: Kindred Group has not been immune to challenges, facing sanctions and warning fees from the Swedish Gambling Authority, legal issues in Norway, and a notable fine from the UK Gambling Commission. These controversies, particularly the fine for anti-money laundering (AML) and social responsibility failures, indicate areas where the company continues to navigate challenges within its industry.
  4. Public Ratings and Recognition: Despite challenges, Kindred Group has received notable recognition and awards, such as being named one of Sweden’s Career Companies of the Year 2022 and receiving the Most Impactful Social Responsibility Initiative award. These accolades signify external validation of its efforts towards sustainability, responsible gambling, and social impact, showcasing its positive reputation within the industry and broader community.

Conclusion

Kindred Group stands as a noteworthy example of a company deeply committed to sustainability, responsible business practices, and social impact. Through a comprehensive array of initiatives, Kindred Group actively addresses environmental challenges, with ambitious targets to achieve carbon neutrality, invest in renewable energy, and reduce waste. These efforts are not only aimed at minimizing the company’s ecological footprint but also at contributing positively to the global fight against climate change. By engaging in carbon offsetting projects and adopting eco-friendly practices, Kindred Group demonstrates its dedication to responsible consumption and production, aligning with UN Sustainable Development Goals such as Climate Action (Goal 13) and Responsible Consumption and Production (Goal 12).

Moreover, Kindred Group’s focus on social impact is evident through its internal initiatives promoting employee well-being, diversity, and inclusion. The company’s commitment to achieving gender equality in leadership positions, fostering a multicultural workforce, and supporting employee development underscores its dedication to creating a positive workplace culture. Externally, Kindred Group’s responsible gambling measures, community engagement programs, and adherence to ethical marketing practices further highlight its role as a socially conscious organization. These efforts not only benefit its employees and customers but also contribute to broader societal goals, including Good Health and Well-being (Goal 3) and Reduced Inequality (Goal 10).

In the face of challenges, such as controversies and legal issues, Kindred Group remains steadfast in its commitment to transparency and accountability. Despite facing sanctions and fines, the company continues to strive for excellence in governance and compliance. Through its Code of Conduct, anti-corruption measures, and sustainability charter, Kindred Group maintains high ethical standards, ensuring that its operations align with legal requirements and ethical principles. As a recipient of various awards, including recognition for its impactful social responsibility initiatives, Kindred Group’s dedication to sustainability, responsible gambling, and social engagement is not only commendable but also serves as a model for the industry. In summary, Kindred Group’s multifaceted approach to sustainability, encompassing environmental, social, and governance aspects, positions it as a leader in responsible business practices within the global gaming and entertainment sector.

BWC Sustainability Scorecard for Kindred Group

  • Transparency (8/10): Kindred Group demonstrates commendable transparency through its sustainability reporting and governance practices. While there is room for improvement in providing more details on waste and water management, the company’s adherence to governance norms and disclosure of environmental initiatives is notable.
  • ESG Strategy (9/10): The company has a robust ESG strategy, evident in its ambitious climate targets, responsible gambling initiatives, and commitment to diversity and inclusion. However, adopting recognized reporting standards such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) could further enhance the strategy’s accountability and comparability.
  • Sanctions and Controversies (6/10): Kindred Group has faced challenges, including sanctions and warning fees from regulatory authorities, notably the Swedish Gambling Authority and the UK Gambling Commission. Legal troubles in Norway raise concerns about compliance and governance practices. Addressing these issues effectively is crucial for maintaining trust and mitigating reputational damage.
  • Public Rating (8/10): Positive Glassdoor ratings and recognition through awards, including being named one of Sweden’s Career Companies of the Year 2022, reflect favorable aspects of the company’s social performance. This indicates a positive perception among employees and stakeholders.

Overall Score: 7.75/10

Note: The scorecard provides a snapshot assessment of Kindred Group’s sustainability performance based on key criteria. While the company demonstrates strong commitment to ESG principles and has received positive recognition, addressing regulatory challenges and enhancing transparency in waste and water management are areas for improvement. Continuous monitoring and improvement efforts are essential for further enhancing overall sustainability and ESG practices.

Note: This review is based on publicly available information, and future reviews may incorporate deeper analyses and interviews with company representatives.

Source Material: Refer to the provided hyperlinks for detailed sources.

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