Should Norway Rethink their New Online Casino Legislation?
In August 2020, the Norwegian government proposed new legislation for Norwegian casinos and online gambling to the European Commission.
20:11 02 January 2021
This did not come as a surprise as the government had been mulling over the issue of regulating state gambling for quite some time. This new gambling law seeks to unify the existing Lottery Act, Gambling Act, and Totalisator Act, by maintaining the monopolies of Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto. These two monopolies have run the gambling industry in Norway for some time, and it seems the state government wants to continue with the status quo.
This is bad news for a private business that wants to delve into the betting industry and other top foreign-based gambling firms that wish to offer their services to Norwegians. Aside from private operators, Norwegian citizens will not be happy with this proposed new betting law as it will not allow them (legally) to patronize other betting operators aside from state-owned platforms. But then, is there a way the government can prevent citizens from wagering at foreign-based online casinos? Even if they try to block overseas IP, would they block VPNs and proxy sites? The government effort in this law seems very feeble.
Following the submission, In October the Norwegian Industry Association for Online Gaming (NBO) criticized the proposed new gaming regulations, and rightfully so. Since they are the most hit by this new legislation, they need to come together to fight this law. The NBO said the proposed legislation would offer poor standards of protection and value for customers. Their grouse is that Norwegian bettors will be at the mercy of these foreign-based casinos who may offer better odds and services than government agencies. If this happens, some of these platforms may not pay on time or run away with citizens' deposits. Who will fight for the citizens?
They are also of the opinion that when just a few people offer huge services like betting, it impedes service delivery. This is because it compels players to patronize just these operators even if their services are poor. Lack of competition they argue does not augur well in the betting industry.
Will increases in regulations help to protect players?
The effect of regulations like these is a source of concern to some interested parties. Some say that monopoly in the market acts as a hindrance, providing poor protection for players, and there seems to be some truth in the suggestion. An increase in the new legislation will not protect players nor help service delivery because of the reasons below.
Poor Odds and Services by State-Ran Operators
While a state monopoly can give a government absolute control over betting operations what about what the citizens want and who protects their interests? It is an open secret that most Norway citizens prefer wagering on foreign-based betting websites than government platforms because of better odds, variety of games, and excellent payment options. What steps are the government taking to make Norsk Tipping and Rikstoto compete favorably with other betting firms?
The Non-Existence of Licensing Models
Currently, Norway does not have any licensing models—meaning that gambling companies, excluding monopoly holders, are banned from operating in the Norwegian market. This, however, is virtually impossible to enforce since various operators are located abroad and operate online. How does the government hope to enforce their new online legislation? Why can’t they put out licensing models that overseas-based gambling firms can bid for and operate freely in the Norway market?
The use of international gaming sites in Norway is significant, and it will be in the state interested to jettison its monopolistic attitudes towards gambling and embrace the free market.
Reasons this New Online Casino Legislation should be Looked Into
According to norskonlinecasino.info, channeling rates to today’s monopoly holders are lower than 50 percent in the Norwegian gaming market. This means that half of the players are drawn to foreign online operators that do not follow Norwegian regulations, resulting in players being unprotected. Here is some reason why this casino legislation should be reviewed.
Revenue Loss to Overseas-Based Online Casinos
These foreign casinos and bookies have bonuses and offers which state-ran betting firms will find difficult to match. And like all customers, they will always seek for where they can get quality services at good rates. This is a financial loss as funds that should remain in the country are enjoyed by foreign betting firms.
Better Options to Curb Gambling Addiction
The government’s final decision on the matter is yet to come as different interests have stepped up campaigns against this new betting legislation. However, the government’s position on the matter is that these regulations are necessary because of addiction. While these might be true, monopoly is not the only solution to curb gambling addiction.
Also, all licensed betting platforms should be mandated to offer various responsible gambling means on their websites. NGOs that specialize in caring for bet addicts should be on their betting platforms and several deposit limit options should be encouraged which will limit the amount a customer can bet with daily. Norwegians can seek help at hjelpelinjen.no to combat betting addiction.
Ensuring Citizens Protection
Gamblers need a safe environment and only favorable legislation from the state government can provide this. It is expected that in the coming months, it will become clearer what direction the government is moving.
Gambling legislation should be encouraged. However, citizens’ interests and protection should be considered above all factors. The gambling industry in Norway will therefore experience a positive change if the authorities are willing to change its laws.