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Unregulated sites increase spend in Norway

| By iGB Editorial Team
Loophole helps overseas firms to bypass Norwegian gambling laws

The Norwegian Gaming Authority (NGA) has reiterated its support for new regulations to limit the impact of unregulated gambling after a spike in advertising from offshore operators.

International operators spent some NOK866m (€91m/$107m) on television advertising in Norway last year as a way of getting around the country’s gambling monopoly.

Headed by acting general director Bjørn Morten Øen (pictured), the NGA said the total represents an increase in NOK742m in the previous year, but such activity is only possible due to a loophole regarding television advertising.

At present, operators can place on channels that are broadcast from outside of the country, allowing them to reach consumers in Norway that are otherwise limited to gambling with state-run firms Norsk tipping and Rikstoto.

Regulators in Norway are set to clamp down on the practice and laws are due to change from September 5, pending approval from the European Commission.

The current system means Norway is missing out on taxable gambling income, with unregulated operators last year raking in between NOK2bn and NOK2.2bn.

Henrik Nordal, director at the NGA, told iGamingBusiness.com that the regulator supports these changes as it seeks to better protect consumers in the country.  

“The Norwegian gambling regulation aims to ensure that gaming schemes are arranged in a satisfactory manner under public control, prevent negative consequences of gaming and ensure that profit from games can be allocated to approved ‘good causes’,” Nordal said.

“A central part of that is to have the most addictive games monitored so the operators are able to provide the necessary responsible gaming environment for our national consumers.

“Responsible gaming environment means that there are effective self-exclusion tools and limits on how much you can bet on each object, per day, per week and per month.

“The presence of illegal operators without these responsibility tools provide a serious safety challenge for our consumers, especially the most vulnerable of them, and that is our main concern.”

Nordal added: “To better meet these challenges our parliament has therefore asked the Ministry of Culture to implement a Domain Name Service-blocking to try and better channel consumers to operators that have a licenses in Norway and hence sufficient responsibility tools implemented.

“This is in addition to the payment-blocking of funds destined or originating from illegal operators. We hope these tools together with public education can create a safer gambling environment for Norwegian consumers and limit negative social consequences we see emanating from illegal operators.”

Despite having to contend with this issue, regulated gaming in Norway was worth NOK43.7bn last year and has grown by 65.7% since 2012.

Norway's Scandinavian neighbour Sweden will soon open up an application process for companies to take on new licences in the country and offer regulated gambling services.

New laws will come into force in Sweden until January 1 next year, with those operators that obtain a licence to face a tax rate of 18%.

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