Norway’s supreme legislature, Stortinget, has recently approved a measure that aims to prevent unlicensed online gambling operators from advertising their products to Norwegian customers via the Internet.
The amendment enhances the powers of Norway’s Media Authority (Medietilsynet) and allows it to order local Internet service providers and media companies to block access to illegal Internet gambling advertisements.
Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto are the only two companies that are authorized to provide gambling services in Norway and to advertise their offering across Norwegian media.
News about the recently approved legislative amendment come shortly after Norwegian lawmakers gave the nod to a measure aiming to close a long-standing loophole in the country’s Broadcasting Act. That other amendment allowed Medietilsynet to order domestic broadcasters to stop airing ads from international online gambling companies.
Gambling ads promoting unauthorized operators were already banned across Norwegian television. However, offshore operators have been able to exploit a loophole in the Scandinavian nation’s legislation by advertising their products on TV channels broadcasting into Norway from outside the country.
Discussions that loopholes in Norway’s advertising law should be closed to prevent online gambling companies from advertising in the country were underway since at least 2017 before their eventual adoption this month.
Reducing the Scope of Gambling Advertising
Commenting on the recently approved measure, Norway’s Minister of Culture and Gender Equality Abid Q. Raja said that the amendment will reduce “the scope of gambling advertising, and may in turn help reduce the number of problem gamblers.”
Minister Raja went on to say that the country previously lacked the necessary tools to implement a full-blown advertising ban on international gambling companies, but the recently approved provision empowers Medietilsynet to order Internet service providers to block assess to illegal advertising materials.
While the Norwegian Parliament is looking to further prevent unlicensed gambling companies from advertising and providing their products to Norwegian customers, the Norwegian Industry Association for Online Gaming (Norsk Bransjeforening for Onlinespill, NBO) is yet again calling for the liberalization of the local market. It recently also slammed the government’s plans to restrict gambling advertising in the country.
The association maintains that the reorganization of the Norwegian iGaming space in a manner that would enable international companies to operate in a regulated environment would be the type of framework that would best protect local gamblers.
The Norwegian government has long argued that the monopoly model is actually the one that would protect nationals from gambling addiction and other gambling-related problems and that liberalizing the market is not on their agenda.
According to a recent research from the University of Bergen, commissioned by Norway’s gambling regulator, Lotteri-og Stiftelsestilsynet, around 55,000 people in Norway suffer from gambling problems. The research sees an increase from 34,000 people in 2015 when the last such survey was conducted.