Norway’s Lotteritilsynet Continues Its Fight with Remote Operators

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Staff member
May 3, 2008
Norway has never considered the possibility to allow international operators to apply for remote gambling licenses on the Norwegian market. Operators continued offering their services to Norwegian players, despite the fact they are not allowed to. These operators will potentially receive another blow, because as Gunn Merete Paulsen said, Lotteritilsynet will continue fighting them, starting with the amendment of the Broadcasting Act.

Previous Successful Restrictions

In a statement for the national media, the Director General of Lotteritilsynet Gunn Merete Paulsen stated that the current tougher stance against foreign operators was working. The government published a report whose findings showed that Norway finally saw the first decrease in player’s engagements with international remote operator following years of growth.

The measures they introduced included payment blocks on all Norwegian banks, which showed a decline of 10% in comparison with the 30% recorded in the period from 2014 to 2017. While in the years 2014 to 2017 30% of Norwegian players claimed they played online casino games with a remote international operator, in 2018 only 10% did. In addition, only 8% placed their bets on unauthorized sports betting sites in 2018, compared to 25% in the period from 2014 to 2017.

She furthermore explained that there were declines in player’s engagement to remote gambling sites and an increase to the state-owned Norsk Rikstoto and Norsk Tipping. In fact, with the blocks, gambling overall decreased, because as stated by the report around 40% of the market’s online gross gaming revenue last year was claimed by Norsk Tipping, which is unchanged in comparison with previous years. This proved that when faced with the choice of gambling with the two state monopolies or not gambling at all, Norwegian players were choosing the latter.

Paulsen said that the payment ban was perhaps the best instrument they had to stop illegal provisions of gambling in the Norwegian online market. In 2019, she said, there will be further tightening of regulations. This is when she first mentioned that Lotteritilsynet aimed to introduce a tougher advertising code on media outlets with regards to publishing and broadcasting gambling ads and other content.

The Possible New Changes

Paulsen said that the Ministry has opened a discussion with international media owners to prohibit gambling marketing being broadcasted to Norwegian players, regardless of the jurisdiction. They made a proposition to amend the Broadcasting Act with the aim to explicitly block local resident’s access to adverting from international online gambling sites that, despite all fines and threats, continue serving local gamblers without holding a Norwegian license. The government still takes its stance of not allowing foreign gambling companies to operate on the Norwegian market.

The goal is, as said by Minister Trine Skei Grande, to authorize Mediatilsysnet, the state media authority, to obstruct or prevent access to gambling marketing via broadband providers and television channels. These providers must abide by these orders unless they want to face appropriate punishments. The orders are mandatory and punishments for recalcitrant media types will take place.

The Norwegian regulator has also warned Eurosport, TV3, VOX, ViaSat, MAX and other popular international broadcasters that cross-border channels and programming must not feature gambling-related advertisements. The government has previously said to giants like Facebook and Apple to restrict and remove pages/apps which are targeted to Norwegian players with remote online gambling services, and Paulsen said that they will continue pressuring them.

Even though their goal is clear, the Ministry acknowledged that these changes will inevitably have a direct financial impact on the aforementioned media outlets, so before dismissing it altogether, they have begun a consultation to consider media’s viewpoint. All interested parties have been invited by the Ministry to submit their opinions by June 17.

Criticism by EGBA

Even though it is more than obvious that Norway does not want foreigners to intertwine with its gambling market, the government may have crossed the line, critics say. Whilst the 2018 directives by Paulsen have proved effective, the government has come under severe criticism of regulatory over-reach in its paternalistic stance against online gambling.

The Secretary-General of EGBA (European Gaming and Betting Association) Maarten Haijer said that Norway’s regulator Lotteritilsynet has crossed a line by using national banks as its only prohibitive measure instead of pushing for a more informed regulatory reform on gambling in Norway.

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