The Norwegian Government has presented a new Gambling Act which aims to further crack down on unlicensed betting in the country.
“With this law we are taking a harder line than before. Why? Because we have had enough”, says Minister of Culture, Abid Raja.
Norway’s long-lasting ban on unlicensed gambling has largely proved ineffective in keeping Norwegian players from spending their money with online-based operators without a Norwegian licence. 2020 numbers show that as much as 66 per cent of all online gambling in Norway is done with foreign operators.
If approved, the new law will unify the previous Lottery Act, Gambling Act and Totalisator Act, and will maintain and strengthen the market monopoly currently shared by Norsk Tipping and Rikstoto. It also intends to improve the authorities’ capacity when it comes to sanctioning those who break the rules.
“We have had enough of foreign gambling operators that do not respect Norwegian law, and do not operate with proper accountability measures. We have had enough of companies encouraging Norwegians to play for money, and to take out consumer loans to play even more. And we have definitely had enough of tiresome and aggressive gambling advertising”, Raja continues.
As offering gambling without a licence in Norway has long been illegal, the new law is in many ways more a simplification of the legal framework rather than a shift in policy.
However, the new law also prohibits participation in offering and marketing gambling games that are not licensed in Norway. The ban will not only affect operators, but also those who pass on customers, are ambassadors for foreign betting companies, or otherwise promote betting and gambling to Norwegians.
“Violation of the ban can lead to punishment”, says Raja.
What this will mean for affiliate sites that forward Norwegian players to foreign operators through promoting different types of betting bonuses and campaigns, is still not clear.
The proposal has been met with criticism from, among others, The Norwegian Industry Association for Online Gaming (Norsk Bransjeforening for Onlinespill/NBO). NBO secretary general Carl Fredrik Stenstrøm says that the new law is not a solution for the future.
“The intentions of creating a new joint gambling law are good. But the proposal does not reflect the technological reality, or the modern consumer behavior on the internet, and does not include solutions to today’s challenges”.
Norway’s Progress Party’s spokesperson on online gaming Himanshu Gulati agrees, adding that he believes the country’s gambling monopoly has failed.
“The government chooses to still bury its head in the sand and pretend that 250,000 Norwegians do not leave billions with foreign gambling companies each year. Instead of including these companies in a license model and taxing them, they deny reality and let the money disappear out of Norway”.