Online gambling is legal in Norway. However, the country is getting more unfriendly towards online gambling operators and users. The Norwegian government promised tougher sanctions for unlawful operators with the passage of the new Gambling Act earlier this year. Now, keeping to this promise, Norway has appeared again in the online casino industry news. But this time around, the Norwegian government plans to block the websites of overseas-based gambling operators who do not have a licence to trade in the country.
From America to Europe, Africa to Asia and across the globe, online gambling with its legalization has been gaining ground in recent times. In the third quarter of the year, there were some interesting reports in Germany and Singapore over gambling reforms. But this wind of change blowing through the iGaming industry has not been without conflicts between concerned stakeholders such as citizens, gambling business operators, gambling regulators, governments, and even international organizations. We have recently seen new laws and the modification of old ones to address the many problems arising from unwanted or intolerable activities of individuals and groups in the industry. For where there is no law, there is no offence and vice versa, and the world of iGaming is no exception to this. Hence, over the years, governments have been the most powerful influencer of the iGaming industry through the use of legal power.
In Europe, Norway has made the headlines recently following the government’s new plan on the regulation of online gaming and gambling operations in the country. According to the reports, the Norwegian government intends to implement laws requiring local internet service providers (ISPs) to block unlawful gambling websites through domain name system (DNS) blockage software. These unlawful gambling websites refer to those who do not have a licence to do online gaming business in the country but are promoting their gaming websites for access and patronage in Norway.
During an interview with reporters, Abid Raja, the Minister of Culture in Norway, said the following concerning the new plan: “These companies do what they can to circumvent Norwegian law. With blocking, we will be able to gag them. We will go as far as possible to get rid of these companies. Basically, we do not want DNS blocking. But we also do not want the gambling problems these companies bring to the country.”
According to the consultation paper issued to the European Commission by the Norwegian government, the suggested modification seeks to give the Norwegian Gaming Authority (NGA) the final authority to prohibit an unlicensed internet gaming service operator. Accordingly, before issuing a DNS-blocking order, the NGA should have made attempts to contact the gaming operator directly. If such a discussion fails or the request goes unanswered, the NGA may issue a DNS-blocking order. Furthermore, the NGA may analyze the content and format of the landing page of the gaming operator and utilize it to notify visitors of a blocked site.
Following the creation of a monopoly by the government of Norway, Norwegians have had the state-owned operator Norsk Tipping as the owner of exclusive rights to operate poker, sports betting, and lottery games since 1992 when the 1992 Gaming Act became effective. So, historically, gambling has always been a challenging subject for Norwegians. The situation is more complicated because gaming rules and controls in Norway are antiquated and ineffectual.
The political leaders in Norway have come to realize the need for revised gaming laws. But their primary focus has been on preventing gambling addiction over the years. Therefore, this new plan is another significant event in the history of the development of online gambling and the quality of gaming experienced by online casino players in this Scandinavian country.
On the basis that the Norwegian government pledged to introduce harsher penalties for illegal operators at the beginning of 2021, we conclude that this new plan should not be surprising to all online casino service users and overseas-based unlicensed gambling operators in Norway. In addition, it is worth mentioning that this proposal does not serve as a systematic approach to removing the existing monopoly model. The market for online gambling in Norway remains a state-owned monopoly until further notice.