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Norway proposes gambling exception to consumer protection law

| By Zak Thomas-Akoo
The Norwegian ministry of children and families has sent a draft law to the country’s legislative body, the Storting, proposing that gambling be exempted from the country’s Right of Withdrawal Act.

The Right of Withdrawal Act regulates agreements between consumers and businesses.

In the proposed amendment, the ministry argues that gambling should be given an exception from the law since requirements for prior information and the right to withdraw are “difficult to implement” for gambling activities.

The Right of Withdrawal Act is a 2014 law which implements a 2011 EU consumer rights directive into Norwegian law.

Among other provisions, the law regulates what information a business must provide before entering into an agreement with a consumer, as well as giving said customer 14 days to withdraw from the agreement.

While the EU directive contained a clause dispensing games of chance from the provisions, the Norwegian law contained no such exemption.

the act implemented a 2011 eu consumer rights directive into norwegian law

The proposal follows a series of consultations that the ministry undertook with a number of Norwegian government bodies, academic institutions, political organisations, gaming businesses and NGOs.

Response from industry

The amendments to the Act received a mixed response from the industry. The country’s online gaming trade association, the Norwegian Industry Association for Online Gaming (NBO), applauded the specifics of the bill – but argued that the real issue was stringent regulation buoying the strength of the illegal market.

“The Norwegian Online Gambling Industry Association understands the ministry’s wish to amend the Right of Withdrawal Act so that it is more in line with today’s consumers’ relationship with gambling,” it stated in a response to the consultation. “As they write, it is a main principle in Norwegian gambling policy ‘to channel gambling activity towards safe and sound gambling offers that are subject to public control’.

“And to succeed in that, ‘the games Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto offer must have sufficient competitiveness and be user-friendly’.

“This is not the case either with or without the amendments to the Right of Cancellation Act.”

The NBO further pointed to H2 Gambling Capital’s analysis of the level of channelisation rate for online gambling in Norway, highlighting that non-Norwegian regulated companies made up 67% of the total market in 2021. It emphasised that what this meant in practice is that more than half of the online sports betting and igaming market happened outside a context of national regulation.

“It is all the more gratifying to see that the ministry indicates in the consultation letter that they have checked with the applicable law and practice in a number of European countries regarding their application of the right of withdrawal for gambling,” continued the lobbying organisation. “What these countries have in common is that they have also chosen to regulate gambling through a licensing model – with the exception of Finland, which is expected to adopt this shortly.”

In January, the Norwegian gambling regulator Lotteritilsynet reported that the number of banks contacting customers over illegal transactions had increased since the study was first completed in 2020.

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