In the government’s latest attempt to maintain its state gambling monopoly, internet providers would be compelled to introduce technical measures to prevent users from accessing selected websites using the domain name system (DNS). In practice, the bill means that if a player tries to reach a blocked website, they will instead be redirected to a landing page with information as to why the website is blocked.
The amendment to the Gambling Act was put forward as a recommendation from the ministry of culture and equality on Friday (20 October) and approved by the cabinet on the same day. The legislation comes more than two years after the Norwegian authorities began a consultation over DNS blocking for unlicensed sites.
“We do this primarily to prevent and limit gambling problems and to look after vulnerable players and their relatives,” said minister for culture and equality, Lubna Jaffery.
“If the foreign gambling companies had followed Norwegian law, this would not have been imposed on the internet providers. Therefore, we have to regulate this by targeting actors over whom we have jurisdiction.”
Continued attempts to block unlicensed sites
The announcement comes after the government recently noted that unregulated sites could be banned from 2024 following Kindred Group’s withdrawal from Norway in September.
Financial institutions in Norway are already responsible for tracking and stopping transactions linked to illegal gambling. However, last month the Norwegian Lottery Authority (Lotteritilsynet) announced it is monitoring nine banks to ensure compliance.
Earlier this year, Lotteritilsynet’s director, Henrik Nordal, backed the prospect of DNS blocking for unregulated sites.
“DNS blocking makes the riskiest gambling games less available and thus protects Norwegian players,” said Nordal. “It also means that many people are not aware of the risk of playing with the illegal gambling companies.
“With DNS blocking, the players will be notified and stopped when they are on their way to such a money game. This is an effective information measure that will also have a preventive effect.”
EGBA calls to end Norway online monopoly
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.
As such, online gambling options are limited. However, the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) recently urged Norway to switch to a licensing model.
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.