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EGBA urges Norway to drop online gambling monopoly

| By Robert Fletcher
The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has urged lawmakers in Norway to switch from its current monopoly system to a licensing model for online gambling.

Norway remains one of the last European countries with a state gambling monopoly. Lottery Norsk Tipping has the rights to online casino gaming and sports betting, while Norsk Rikstoto covers horse racing.

However, EGBA says Norway should follow the example of other European markets such as neighbouring Sweden and Finland and make the move to a licensing system. EGBA secretary-general Maarten Haijer said this would help combat issues such as consumers gambling with unlicensed sites.

“The belief that a monopoly model is essential for safer gambling does not align with the current European trend,” Haijer said. “Nearly every other European country has implemented some form of licensing system, successfully prioritising player safety within a regulatory framework that provides clear rules for companies to follow. 

“In Norway, there is a clear demand for alternatives to the current gambling monopoly, as evidenced by the determination of players to actively seek out and access international websites which offer them greater choice. It is crucial for the government to recognise and respond to this demand.”

Haijer said a licensing system would address the demand for alternative gambling options. This, Haijer added, would increase tax revenue and strengthen safer gambling measures by regulating more operators within the country.

“Norway is the only country in mainland Europe committed to an exclusive gambling monopoly,” Haijer said. “It is essential for the authorities to evaluate whether this approach remains relevant in the modern digital age and in comparison to the practices adopted by other European countries. 

“We strongly urge the Norwegian authorities to consider the advantages of a licensing model. This can effectively meet the evolving needs of its players and foster a more comprehensive approach to gambling regulation that prioritises player safety.” 

Kindred exits Norway

Despite Norway’s gambling monopoly, some operators and websites remain active in the country.

One business that is no longer operating in Norway is Kindred. Last week, Norway’s regulator Lotteritilsynet said Kindred will withdraw, marking the end of a years-long battle. 

Lotteritilsynet did not name Kindred specifically, instead referring to “the company behind Unibet”. Lotteritilsynet added that Betsson, ComeOn and Bet365 are also in the process of withdrawing.

In listing the companies exiting the market, Lotteritilsynet also named Mariacasino, Storspiller and Bingo. Along with Unibet, these are operated in the country by Kindred subsidiary Trannel.

The regulator warned that companies that do not withdraw may have their websites blocked in 2024.

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