Foreign Casinos Dismiss Norway’s New Laws
Posted on by Sean Williamson
Despite the fact that Norway’s local gaming monopoly remains in place, international online casino operators remain optimistic about their prospects in the country. This, even after the implementation of even stricter Norwegian gambling laws on Monday.
Drafted by a four-party coalition (the Socialist Left Party, the Centre Party, the Christian People’s Party, and the Labour Party) last month, the new rules have now been into law by Norway’s supreme legislative body, Storting. These laws bar foreign gambling operators from targeting Norwegian citizens, effectively preserving the existing monopoly.
These unregulated operators, however, appear fairly unfazed by this effort to push them out of the market, describing the rules as a purely symbolic attempt to delay the inevitable liberalisation of the Norwegian gambling sector.
Protection and Preservation
Under the new laws, Norway’s official gambling regulator, Lotteri- og stiftelsestilsynet, has greater authority to prosecute unlicensed operators. The regulator now also has the right to requisition annual business reports from financial institutions in order to identify transactions between Norwegian nationals and foreign gambling operators.
Additionally, after the previous rejection of an IP-blocking proposal, a new DNS-blocking practice will soon allow regulators to warn customers off of unregulated websites with greater speed.
According to Lotteri- og stiftelsestilsynet, the objectives of these stricter regulations are twofold: the protection of Norwegian citizens from overexposure to gambling and potentially unscrupulous operators, and the preservation of the current monopoly system.
Local lawmakers contend that the current monopoly model – in which only Norsk Tipping and Rikstoto are allowed to operate – is the ideal system. In support of this claim, they refer to the fact that these operators are obligated to direct a portion of their annual revenues to local sports and sports-related initiative. This, say those in favour, is vital to the development of sports in the country.
Business as Usual
Despite the confidence displayed by the Norwegian authorities that these new measures will achieve their objectives, the international gaming community appears undeterred. In fact, several major international operators with Nordic-facing sites say the changes are unlikely to affect their business very much.
Among others, international gambling megalith and owner of the Unibet brand, the Kindred Group has indicated that it anticipates that the new laws will have little to no impact on its operations.
In an interview with local news outlet, Aftenposten, online gambling operator, ComeOn, echoed these sentiments. According to ComeOn spokesman, Stian Røsvik Bjørstad, these new regulations are merely the regulator’s latest effort to delay the inevitable reregulation of the Norwegian gaming market. In addition to describing Norway’s new gambling laws as purely symbolic, Bjørstad claims that they are actually in breach of the Agreement on the European Economic Area, to which Norway is party.