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Norway Announces Strict Online Gambling Restrictions
- April 25, 2018 By Oliver Young -
In another step that experts have widely characterized as protecting the state gambling monopoly, rather than protecting Norwegian problem gamblers, Norway has announced strict online gambling restrictions. Namely, the Norwegian Gaming Authority has started a consultation period on the freshly proposed restrictions that would provide even less competition to the Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto i.e. the gambling monopoly owned by the state.
Earlier this week, several Norwegian parties (Labour, Socialist Left, Christian Peoples and Centrist Party) revealed that a combined mandate had been developed. Among other things, this mandate demands implementation of a long list of gaming restrictions no later than 7th of May 2018. In other words, Norway would soon become even more hostile towards foreign operators, while its citizens would have to stick to the Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto offers.
As the state operator doesn’t offer any online poker, if the new laws are approved, this type of online gambling would be completely banned for Norwegians.
Measures Include IP Blocking and Banning Banking Transaction of Foreign Operators
All the proposed measures by the NGA generally target foreign gambling operators and involve restrictions aimed to prevent them from serving Norwegian players. For example, one of the regulations is tightening financial transactions with non-Norwegian remote gambling companies.
Current laws demand banks and financial institutions to block payments from certain account numbers i.e. account numbers of gambling operators. However, companies have tricked the laws by opening new banking accounts. Therefore, the stricter restrictions order payment operators to block transactions with certain company titles, something that would make it much harder for operators to circumvent the regulations.
Another restriction that caught the public eye is the proposed block of IP addresses of online gambling operators. This would make these online casinos completely out of reach of Norwegian consumers. Furthermore, this would warn Norwegian players that a certain site is not approved. Additionally, tougher advertising restrictions will be introduced as well; namely, media promoting any unlicensed remote gambling sites would face serious fines, something believed to prevent such actions in the future. Finally, the powers of Lotteri og Stiftelestilsynet to set the penalties for any violations of the Norwegian financial codes and gambling act would be extended.
Restrictions Aim to Protect Problem Gamblers in Norway
According to government statements, the restrictions were created in order to further protect problem gamblers in the country. However, it seems that the step would more likely protect the state gambling monopoly, whose profits soared for 8.2% and reached $665 million in 2017. For illustration, the company noted a huge jump in player base too, whose figure increased to 1.96 million from modest 80,000.
For the record, the situation is very similar when it comes to its neighbour Sweden too; namely, the Swedish gambling market is also mainly dominated by the national Svenska Spel. However, earlier this year it was announced that the country was preparing new gambling legislation that could change things in favour of foreign online gambling companies.
In any case, if the proposed changes in Norway pass the committee stage, they would be placed before the Norwegian parliament for ratification in May.