Norway Rolls Out New Rules to Combat Unlicensed Gambling Operations

A coalition of four Norwegian parties has presented the country’s legislature, the Storting, with a set of measures aimed at better protecting Norsk Tipping’s monopoly over the provision of gambling services and at blocking unlicensed international operators from targeting local players.

Norwegian news outlet VG reported Tuesday that the set of measures was jointly crafted by members of the Labor Party, the Christian People’s Party, the Socialist Left Party, and the Center Party. Their effort secured a majority on Tuesday, and according to VG, Norwegian legislators will look to adopt the new measures by May 7, 2018.

The news outlet wrote that yesterday’s events represented a defeat for previous measures for the creation of a licensing system and the opening of the local online gaming and betting market to international operators, spearheaded by Minister of Culture Trine Skei Grande.

Gambling in Norway is provided by two state-run entities – Norsk Tipping, which operates the majority of gambling services that are legal in the country, and Norsk Rikstoto, which is solely responsible for the nation’s horse racing industry.

Under the newly introduced measures, the Norwegian Gaming Authority (Lotteri- og stiftelsestilsynet) will have its power extended in several ways. The gambling regulator will be able to punish international gambling operators that breach the country’s gambling regulations and provide unlicensed operations.

In addition, the Gaming Authority will be able to require annual reports from banks to probe for any transactions conducted between a Norwegian national and an international gaming or betting company.

DNS blocking will, too, be implemented as part of the new set of rules to better prevent Norwegians from accessing foreign gambling websites.

The creators of the new measures have justified their recent introduction with the need for the country’s existing monopoly to be kept intact as it provides much-needed funding to Norwegian sport and numerous good causes. The new rules were also revealed to be ones that would better protect Norwegian gambling customers from falling victims to questionable unregulated operations.

Gambling Stock Divestment

Earlier this year, Norway’s Labor Party and Christian Democratic Party introduced a proposal that called for the country’s $1-trillion oil fund to divest from gambling stocks. The fund had previously been banned from investing in businesses that are involved in the tobacco, landmine production, and nuclear weapon industries.

According to local news outlet E24, the fund’s total investment in gambling companies amounted to around NOK26 billion ($3.3 billion) at the beginning of 2018. The news outlet also wrote in a report on the matter that Las Vegas giants MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment Corp., and Wynn Resorts, as well as online gambling operators Betsson, Paddy Power Betfair, and 888 Holdings were just few of the gambling companies the fund has invested in.

Pressure on Gambling Advertising

Norwegian lawmakers told media Tuesday that while the new measures could improve the gambling landscape in the country, more had to be done in relation to the way gambling services were advertised.

Gambling ads came under fire from the country’s Gaming Authority late in 2017, and reports emerged that new rules could be introduced this year. The two state-run operators are the only ones that are allowed to advertise on Norwegian television. However, international companies have been able to circumvent that rule for years by exploiting a loophole that has made it possible for them to place ads on TV channels that broadcast from outside Norway. That loophole might soon be closed.

It was also understood that legislators might actually look to limit the two state-run operators’ options to advertise their products so that the exposure of vulnerable people to gambling is reduced.

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