Norway Moves To Ban Online PokerApril 30, 2018 12:49 pm
The Norweigan online gambling industry is a monopoly run by the state owned Norsk Tipping, whose products mostly include the Lotto, sports betting, and slots, but not poker.
Last week, leaders of the country’s four opposition political parties subsequently sent a list of demands to Parliament targeting those international online gambling companies still circumventing the law, and once adopted will effectively result in online poker being banned in the non-EU country.
Two state-run entities run the nation’s gambling industry, with Norsk Rikstoto responsible for Norway’s horse racing market, and Norsk Tipping handling the national lottery, sports and instant games, including all online gambling operations.
Up until now, Norway has managed to maintain a monopoly over its online gambling industry by not making available an license application system for foreign operators, and forbidding Norwegian financial institutions from processing transactions involving foreign gambling operators. The latest proposals provided by Norway’s Labour, Christian Peoples, Socialist Left and Centrist Parties, however, is set to widen the scope of its restrictions further, and significantly strengthen the grip that the government has on its gambling market.
Online Gambling Demands
The development was reported by Norwegian online newspaper Verdens Gang, with the four political party collaboration submitting eight “concrete measures” to be acted upon by the Storting’s Parliamentary and Cultural Committee. The mandate calls upon the internet gambling restrictions to be fully implemented by May 7th, with six having already been approved, and the other two likely to be taken care of this week. As pointed out on the VG.no online site, these include the following demands:
– Block access to the websites of foreign gaming companies.
– Let Lottery Authority require annual reporting from banks regarding transactions with foreign gaming companies or payment providers.
– Add restrictions on advertising from Norsk Tipping, since the opportunities for cheap digital exposure have increased in recent years.
– Give the Lottery Authority extended powers of attorney to impose infringement charges on violations of the Money Market Promotion Act and expand investigations of alleged violations.
Norway’s Minister of Culture, Trine Skei Grande, had been working towards liberalizing the country’s online gambling industry and setting up a regulatory framework in order to open the industry to international competition. The proposals’ acceptance therefore represents a defeat for Grande, and a major coup for the government’s opposition parties, with Christian Peoples Party politician Geir Jørgen Bekkevold commenting that he is very pleased to have received a majority for many of the group’s proposals, adding that “it’s big that the opposition sees the value of tightening gaming policy in Norway by making it more responsible.”
The politicians responsible for the mandate have asserted that the new provisions are designed to strengthen Norsk Tipping, and place it in a position to further help the plight of problem gamblers or those most at risk of developing addictive behavior. Picking up the point, Norway’s Labor Party leader, Kari Henriksen, offered the following anti-gambling justification:
“Those who most need this are the gamers who are challenged every day because we have not done anything about the aggressive media advertisements. Now it’s important that the government comes on track with concrete measures as quickly as possible.”
To others, however, the move represents an attempt to further restrict any potential online competition in the country, whilst generating more revenues for Norway’s state-run gambling operations. Last year, the European Union’s Court of Justice (CJEU) decided to halt any further infringement cases concerning EU countries blocking cross-border internet gambling activities provided by other EU licensed operators, with the move having since emboldened some of Europe’s most protectionist countries to pursue ever more restrictive policies.