Norway Steps Up Efforts to Tackle Unauthorized Online Gambling
Norway is set to step up efforts to combat unauthorized gambling operations by closing a long-standing loophole in the portions of its advertising laws relating to gambling products, it emerged this week.
The country’s government is preparing to introduce amendments to the Broadcasting Act that would enable the Norwegian Media Authority to order local television distributors and Internet providers to prevent illegal gambling operators from advertising their products and services to Norwegian audiences.
For years, companies that are not licensed to operate in Norway have still been able to advertise their offering on Norwegian television because many TV stations broadcasting into the Scandinavian nation operate from outside the country.
Discussions that the existing loopholes in Norway’s advertising law should be closed so that such gambling companies are no longer able to market their products in the country have been underway since at least 2017. The Norwegian gambling regulator, Lotteri-og stiftelsestilsynet, launched a consultation on the matter in the spring of 2018.
At present, state-run Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto are the only two gambling operators allowed to advertise their offering across Norwegian TV. Norway is one of the few European nations to maintain the monopoly model as their preferred system for the provision of gambling services.
Lawmakers believe that only by keeping that model they will be able to protect the country’s population from gambling-associated issues.
People with Gambling Problems Must Take Precedence
Commenting on the potential introduction of changes to the advertising regulations, Norwegian Minister of Culture and Gender Equality Abid Q. Raja said that “for the government this is a value choice where the interests of people with gambling problems and their relatives must take precedence over financial considerations.”
According to a report by Lotteri-og stiftelsestilsynet published last October, advertising spending by unauthorized online gambling operators decreased 19% last year and amounted to around NOK631 million (approx. $54.8 million).
And a separate report published in August 2019 claimed that broadcasters could see their annual advertising revenue drop by as much as NOK500 million in case new, stricter rules come into force.
Norway also recently implemented new restrictions on local banks and other financial institutions handling payments to and from offshore gambling companies. Late last year, the country’s gambling regulator sent a letter to financial institutions warning them not to process any gambling-related transactions with any company that is not authorized to operate in Norway.
The new rules took effect on January 1, 2020 and under those, banks and payment processors are required to investigate all transactions involving unlicensed gambling companies and report their findings to Lotteri-og stiftelsestilsynet.
A certain number of banks also have to submit detailed reports on their role in serving as a conduit for offshore operators or payment processors that work with such operators.
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