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Norway submits plans to block overseas gambling websites

| By Richard Mulligan
Norway’s government has published plans to implement DNS-blocking of websites that offer gambling products targeting the Norwegian market.
Norway promises tougher sanctions to unlicenced operators with new gambling law

In a consultation paper submitted to the European Commission (EC), the government said the Norwegian Gaming Authority (NGA) will be given the authority to order internet service providers (ISP) to prevent residents from accessing gaming operators not licensed to trade in Norway.

In an amendment to the proposed Gambling Act, the NGA would be able to issue a DNS-blocking order if it establishes that Norwegian law has been violated by proving that the website in question offers gambling services without a licence and that the offer is aimed at the Norwegian market. When initially presented to the EC last year, the Gambling Act sought to order ISPs to simply notify web visitors that the site was unlicensed.

Commenting on the plans, Abid Raja, Minister of Culture, told reporters: “These companies do what they can to circumvent Norwegian law. With blocking, we will be able to gag them. We will go as far as possible to get rid of these companies.

“Basically, we do not want DNS blocking. But we also do not want the gambling problems these companies bring to the country.”

The Norwegian government’s summary of the plans submitted to the EC state the NGA may only issue a blocking order if it constitutes a proportional measure in the specific case. In the proportionality assessment, the NGA should balance the interests in favour of issuing an order against other interests that are affected by such an order, including the interests of the ISP and the owner of the website, as well as the considerations of freedom of information and freedom of expression.

The government said that before issuing an order of DNS-blocking, the regulator should have tried to contact the gambling provider directly. If such dialogue does not succeed, or the request is unanswered, the NGA can issue a DNS-blocking order.

It added that the NGA may determine the content and form of the landing page, by which visitors will discover the site is blocked.

The Norwegian government promised stricter sanctions towards unlicensed operators as it presented the new Gambling Act earlier this year.

The legislation seeks to unify the country’s previous Lottery Act, Gambling Act and Totalisator Act while maintaining the market monopoly shared by Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto. A ban on foreign operators marketing their services to consumers in the country would also remain in place.

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