Industry Stakeholders Call Norway’s New Gambling Rules “Pure Symbolism”

Norway’s Storting, the country’s supreme legislature, adopted on Monday, May 7, a set of measures aimed to prevent foreign gambling companies from targeting local gamblers and to protect the gambling monopoly in the country.

However, the new rules might not produce the desired effect of scaring off internationally licensed operators. Commenting on Norwegian lawmakers toughening their grip on unregulated operations, industry stakeholders called the newly introduced measures “pure symbolism”.

It was announced last month that a coalition of four parties – the Labor Party, the Socialist Left Party, the Christian People’s Party, and the Center Party – has crafted a set of gambling-oriented measures. The coalition’s effort won a much-needed majority later in April to refer the proposed new rules to the Storting. The rules were adopted yesterday by the country’s legislature.

Under the newly adopted measures, the local gambling regulator Lotteri- og stiftelsestilsynet now has greater powers that allow it to penalize unlicensed operators that are targeting Norwegian gamblers. The Norwegian Gaming Authority is also be able to request annual reports from banking institutions to investigate whether transactions have taken place between Norwegian nationals and international gambling operators.

A previous IP blocking proposal had been rejected by Norwegian lawmakers, but a proposal for DNS blocking has gained enough support to be introduced as part of the country’s renewed crackdown on unregulated gambling. That particular measure will ensure that gambling customers are informed in a timely manner that they are gambling on an unregulated website.

”Pure Symbolism”

According to local media reports, international operators might not be taking the new rules that seriously, even though they have now officially taken effect. Stian Røsvik Bjørstad, spokesman for online gambling operator ComeOn, told local news outlet Aftenposten that the new measures would have “little to no impact” on their business in the country.

Bjørstad went on to say that they see the latest effort to curb international operations as “pure symbolism”. According to him, the newly rolled out measures were yet another attempt by Norwegian lawmakers to postpone what seems to be an inevitable re-regulation of the local market in a manner that would create a licensing regime and would admit foreign companies to operate in the local field. The gambling spokesman further explained that some of the curbs included in the new set of rules breach the Agreement on the European Economic Area.

The Kindred Group, the owner of the Unibet online gaming and betting brand, has too said that the new measures are not likely to affect their business in Norway that much. The company, which is known to be heavily targeting gamblers from the Nordics, has long been lobbying for the introduction of a gaming license model as opposed to the current monopoly.

Country lawmakers have previously pointed out that the monopoly model is the best one for the country as it provides much-needed revenue for Norwegian sports and protects customers from the risks related to overexposure to gambling, particularly to unregulated services. Norsk Tipping and Rikstoto are currently the only two operators allowed to operate in Norway. They contribute a portion of their annual revenues to sport and related initiatives.

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