Policy and regulation
The regulation of gaming in Norway is constantly changing and evolving. Below is an overview of the main points on the regulatory front in 2021.
The Norwegian gaming model
Norwegian gaming regulations are adopted by the Norwegian parliament, the Storting. The regulations are intended to reduce the negative consequences of gaming.
Three guiding laws
The area of gaming is regulated by three laws:
- The Gaming Act
- The Lotteries Act
- The Totalisator Act
Limited number of providers
The government has chosen to give the monopoly companies Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto responsibility for offering the highest risk games.
Supervision and political control
The government maintains tight control of the gaming market. The Ministry of Culture and Equality exercises ownership of Norsk Tipping and the Norwegian Gaming and Foundation Authority supervises the company’s activities.
Gaming white paper
In 2017, the Storting (Norwegian parliament) considered a report on gaming, ‘Everything to Gain – A Responsible and Active Gaming Policy’ (St. 12 (2016–2017) Report to the Storting (white paper)) (in Norwegian). The government decided to continue the monopoly model and the Storting agreed. The white paper covered a number of measures designed to reinforce the monopoly model. Several of these were followed up by the Ministry of Culture and Equality in 2021.
Broadcasting Act comes into force
On 1.1.2021, changes to the Broadcasting Act came into force. The prohibition against marketing illegal games has long been challenged by TV channels that broadcast from another EEA state. The changes to the Broadcasting Act give the Norwegian Media Authority legal authority to enforce the prohibition on marketing (in Norwegian). The Norwegian Media Authority now has the power to order Norwegian distributors of TV broadcasts and audio visual services to prevent or impede access to illegal gaming advertising. Read more on marketing in the chapter on marketing games.
In spring 2021, the Norwegian Media Authority (in Norwegian) determined that Discovery Communications’ TV channels in Norway were broadcasting a lot of gaming advertising that was prohibited in Norway. On 5.4.2021, the Norwegian Media Authority decided (in Norwegian) to order distributors (Telenor, Telia, Altibox, RiksTV and Allente) to halt the marketing of foreign games on Discovery’s TV channels.
The rules governing marketing have been tightened in a number of ways.
New marketing guidelines
With effect from 1.1.2021, the Ministry of Culture and Equality and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food laid down new marketing guidelines under the auspices of Norsk Tipping and the Norsk Rikstoto Foundation (in Norwegian). A number stricter marketing restrictions were introduced. The marketing must still be limited to what is necessary to channel consumers towards safer and reasonable gaming offerings.
Rikstoto introduced new betting limits
On 1.1.2021, the Norsk Rikstoto Foundation introduced new maximum betting limits.
Their introduction was based on its licence from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. The Storting had already considered an earlier proposal from Storting representatives not to introduce loss limits for Rikstoto in December 2020. However, the Storting asked the government to consider whether, within the framework of socially responsible gaming, more individualised loss limits could be introduced. The Storting also asked the government to make the suspension of the totaliser tax permanent.
No majority for the proposed licensing model
In December 2020, four Storting representatives from the Progress Party put forward a proposal (in Norwegian) that would repeal the gaming monopoly in favour of a licensing scheme for gaming. They also proposed changing the marketing laws so that all gaming companies with a licence could market themselves. The Standing Committee on Family and Cultural Affairs did not hold a hearing on the matter and the proposal was considered by the Storting on 11.3.2021. The proposal only received votes from the Progress Party and the independent Storting representative Ulf Leirstein.
New Gaming Act being considered
A new Gaming Act is intended to replace the current three acts in the area of gaming: the Gaming Act, the Lotteries Act and the Totalisator Act. The bill was presented to the Storting on 18.6.2021. The Standing Committee on Family and Cultural Affairs held an oral hearing on the Act on 10.12.2021. The bill contains a number of measures that will strengthen the monopoly model. The new object provision underscores the fact that the Act’s main purpose is to prevent problem gaming and other negative consequences of gaming. It proposes giving the Ministry of Culture and Equality responsibility for all gaming and strengthening the role of the Norwegian Gambling and Foundation Authority and support system. The Act was passed by the Storting in March 2022 and will come into force on 1.1.2023.
It will make it clearer which gaming companies are permitted to offer games in Norway and make unregulated activities more difficult.
Consultation on DNS blocking
On 21.9.2021, the Ministry of Culture and Equality circulated a proposal for consultation that would allow DNS blocking in the new Gaming Act (in Norwegian). DNS blocking means that internet providers would be obliged to block users’ access to specific websites using the domain name system (DNS). The proposal involves the Norwegian Gambling and Foundation Authority be able to DNB block websites that offer games contrary to Norwegian law.
Many countries have already introduced DNS blocking. In Denmark, more than one hundred websites that illegally targeted gaming offerings at the Danish market have been blocked.
Any introduction of DNS blocking is expected to have a major educational effect. It will make it clearer which gaming companies are permitted to offer games in Norway and make unregulated activities more difficult.
Originally, in the consultation process for the new Gaming Act, the ministry suggested introducing legal authority for DNS notifications. However, based on the submissions received in the consultation process, the ministry chose to move away from DNS notifications in favour of blocking. This was the subject of a separate consultation process. The deadline for written submissions was 2.11.2021 and the proposal is still under consideration by the ministry.
Revenue framework for major lotteries adjusted
The Lotteries Regulation was amended in 2015. The amendments allowed for five larger lotteries with annual revenue of up to NOK 300 million. The licences for these lotteries were awarded to socially beneficial and humanitarian organisations in 2017. In 2021, the Norwegian Gambling and Foundation Authority suggested index regulating the lotteries’ revenue framework based on the consumer price index. Following a written consultation process, the Regulation was amended by the Ministry of Culture and Equality with effect from 1.7.2021, and the Norwegian Gambling and Foundation Authority decided to index regulate the revenue framework (in Norwegian).
Legal testing of the Norwegian gaming regulations
In recent years, the gaming sector has been marked by providers legally challenging the politically approved regulation of gaming and the means the government uses to enforce its regulation. In autumn 2019, the government won three different court cases in Oslo District Court:
- Entercash and EGBA sued the government in a case concerning the prohibition against money transfers.
- Norsk Lotteri AS sued the government with regards to the validity of the current gaming model.
- Trannel sued the government in a case linked to the Norwegian Gambling and Foundation Authority’s exercising of supervision.
In 2021, the two cases lacking an enforceable court judgement, the lawsuits from Norsk Lotteri and Trannel, were heard by the Court of Appeal. The government won here too, and in the Trannel case the complainant was refused permission to the take the case to the Supreme Court.
In 2021, Discovery Communications sued the government claiming that the approved amendments to the Broadcasting Act were contrary to EEA law. The lawsuit was dismissed by Oslo District Court on the basis of it not satisfying the requirements for a lawsuit. This dismissal was subsequently upheld by the Court of Appeal.