Norway Locks Its Doors to International Casinos

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Anyone who knows anything about online gambling will already be aware that Norway is one of the least open countries in Europe. In fact, the state has a virtual Monopoly on gambling in the country. Norsk Rikstoto controls horse racing, and Norsk Tipping controls games of chance along with sports betting.

Norway has a long tradition of being hostile towards outside operators, and in 2008 it made it illegal for Norwegian gamblers to play at foreign sites. Yet, in practice, many Norwegian gamblers still do, and the laws are only loosely enforced. That may all be about to change, though.

Let’s take a look at how this monopoly affects the Norwegian gambling industry and who suffers most as a result of it.

How Norway’s Monopoly Hurts...Norway

While there’s no doubt that the reason behind Norway’s closed attitude towards foreign gambling operators is intended to keep the money in the country, it actually has the opposite effect when it comes to online gambling.

Due to the lack of options, Norwegian players simply bypass the rules and play at offshore casinos. There are plenty of sites willing to accept them, and they often aren’t regulated.

This means all of the online casino revenue is going to offshore sites on servers in places like Curacao and elsewhere. This is money which could flow into Norway’s coffers if it opened up the market and provided better choices for Norwegian online gamblers.

Norwegian gamblers suffer, too. With a monopoly in place, the current operators have no incentive to offer competitive odds or improved services. If there’s no competition, why would they? Other than this, the entire ecosystem of companies which sprout up around robust and competitive gambling industries suffer. The online environment, as a whole suffers from a lack of investment, and third-party companies, for example, game testing firms and online casino guides like Nye Casinoer that focuses on the norwegian market get none of the action.


Norway Shows no Signs of Changing


While the EU has had several spats with member states over their gambling monopolies, Norway has shown no willingness to change.

In fact, in June 2018 Norway’s Ministry of Culture submitted new regulations to the European Commission which would protect its current monopoly. If the European Commission doesn’t request any revisions, Norway will attempt to crack down on illegal gambling online through blocking payments to them. This would be similar to the measures taken by the USA in the UIGEA (2006).

What’s more, any banks and financial institutions which do get requests to send money to offshore gambling sites will be required to report this to the Norwegian Gaming Authority, sparking privacy concerns.


Will Norway Ever Change?

It’s unlikely that Norway’s enormously powerful gambling monopoly will go down without a long and protracted fight. Certainly, there are no signs indicating reform is on the table.

Will Norwegian players abide by the new regulations and accept what Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto have to offer, or will they turn to cryptocurrencies to circumnavigate the financial institutions, as many US gamblers have done?

Only time will tell. For now, it’s safe to say that change is extremely unlikely in the coming years.


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