Norway Plans Tough New Online Gambling Restrictions

More protection for state-owned Norsk Tipping as rival activity is further constrained

The Norwegian Gaming Authority has begun a consultative period on its proposed regulations to further restrict competition to the state-owned gambling monopoly Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto. The consultation period will end August 15.

The proposals include a tightening of regulations on financial transactions with unauthorised operators, a measure already in force that requires banks and other financial entities to block such payments.

It is now proposed that the NGA may order financial institutions to halt transactions by company title, rather than simply account numbers, which some operators have allegedly circumvented by opening new accounts.

In order to make the new regulations effective, the NGA has proposed that it be given authority from January 2019 to force banks to provide on demand details of transactions regarding specifically identified firms, subject to respect for the data privacy of individuals.

These tough proposals are not the only factors building an increasingly hostile environment for online gambling commercial competition in Norway; a political coalition in opposition to the government is pushing with some success for the NGA to be further empowered with authority to investigate companies facilitating advertising and marketing of unauthorised gambling products, and where appropriate to impose financial penalties on such entities.

DNS blocking has also been approved in committee as a means of warning Norwegian punters that a particular website is unauthorised. There has been some discussion around whether this can be effective in practical terms, because it does not constitute the more severe option of IP-blocking of the website, and does not compel the punter to heed the official warning.

These regulations will be placed before parliament early in May for ratification, having passed committee stage.

Protection from competition has worked rather well for the state gambling monopoly; Norwegian gamblers pushed Norsk Tipping’s FY 2017 profits up 8.2 percent y-o-y to a record NK 5.25 billion (US$ 665 million) as the player base of the company soared from 80,000 to 1.96 million.