Norwegian laws still aim to protect iGaming monopoly

May 15, 2018


Norway remains one of the very few countries in the world where iGaming sector is strictly monopolized by the government. Earlier in 2018, some measures were introduced to help in the better regulation of the gambling industry in the country. However, none of the new measures were meant to give way to dilute the government’s monopoly from the lucrative industry. As many people see it, the new measures were only introduced to ensure that the government-run gambling operators remain even strong.

In the month of April 2018, VG, a local Norwegian news outlet reported that a coalition made up of four parties namely Center Party, Christian People’s Party, Labor Party and Socialist Party made a presentation of suggesting gambling measures to the legislature, Storting. In the proposed measures, the parties aimed to protect Norsk Tipping which is one of the government-run gambling operators. The parties suggested that Norsk Tipping should be protected even more. They suggested that international unlicensed gambling operators that target Norwegian residents should be blocked. The measures received majority backing in the legislature on April 27th, 2018 and legislators were to adopt the measures on May 7th, the following month.

Earlier in 2018, the Minister of Culture, Trine Skei Grande spearheaded a move to introduce the creation of a licensing system as well as opening of a local online gaming and betting market to international gambling operators. The move by the four parties to introduce measures to revamp Norsk Tipping position in the gambling market means that the minister’s proposal hangs in the balance now.

Gambling in Norway

The state-run Norsk Rikstoto and Norsk Tipping are the two main gambling bodies in the country. Norsk Rikstoto is mandated with the sole responsibility of overseeing horse racing industry in the country. Norsk Tipping, on the other hand, is meant to offer gambling services in the country.

The Norwegian Gaming Authority, Lotteri-og Stiftelsestilsynet, has been awarded extra powers according to the new measures which were introduced by the legislature. The Authority now has powers to punish international gambling operators that breach gambling regulations of the country and offer gambling services to Norwegians illegally. The authority can order a bank to forward annual reports when it wants to investigate any transactions between a Norwegian player and an International gambling operator.

The government will now be using DNS blocking services. This rule which is included in the new measures is meant to prevent Norwegians from getting access to foreign gambling websites

Why Norway insists on retaining a monopoly gambling system

According to the parties that introduced the gambling measures, it is important that the existing gambling monopoly system in Norway be protected. This should be done mainly because Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto provide much-needed funding to the country’s sporting industry. The funds from the two bodies are also used for many other good things. In the newly introduced measures, it will become easier to protect Norwegian gambling customers from unregulated and questionable international gambling operators.

Gambling rules against operators keep on changing

Earlier in April, a proposal to divest the country’s $1 trillion fund money from gambling stocks was introduced by The Labor party and The Christian Democratic Party. The fund had rules against investing in anything associated with landmine production, nuclear weapon industries, and tobacco.

By early 2018, the gambling industry enjoyed a total investment of NOK 26 billion or $3.3 billion from the country’s fund. It was quoted that some of the big names in the gambling industry that enjoy funding from the fund include Wynn Resorts, 888 Holdings, Paddy Power and Betfair and Caesars Entertainment. If the parties’ proposal is enacted, it would mean that gambling will no longer be eligible for a capital injection from the fund.

According to many of the legislators in the country, the new gambling rules introduced in April can be used to significantly improve the gambling landscape in the country. They were of the opinion that advertising laws relating to gambling operators especially the international ones should be revisited too.

Towards the end of 2017, it was reported that there will be new rules in place by the end of 2018 which would be targeting gambling ads. Currently, only Norsk Rikstoto and Norsk Tipping are allowed to place ads on TV. International online casinos have, however, found a way to beat this and they are having their TV ads on the screens nevertheless. They are using TV channels located outside Norway but which broadcast in the country to reach the Norwegian viewers. It is this loophole the government seeks to seal. Even though the two state-run operators are allowed to place TV ads, it might not be as freely as before. There are reports that new rules targeting the two operators could be introduced in order to protect the very vulnerable persons to gambling in the country from getting overexposed to gambling advertisement.