When it comes to Online Casinos the Norwegian government imposes very strict rules when it comes to online gambling and one of the strictest in Europe. That said, Norway is also a fertile breeding ground for poker players, two of them that comes to mind is Ola ‘Odd Oddsen’ Amundsgaard and Johnny Lodden.
They and many other poker players in the country started their careers in online poker rooms locally and offshore. When the Norwegian government realized what a boon poker is to its economy and legalized it in 2014. As a result many local poker casinos were established where international and local players can compete against each other.
However, despite allowing online casinos, poker, sports betting sites and lotteries it’s important to note that all of them belong to the state. The EU did voice its concern about it but the Norwegian government notified it that it won’t budge. It goes without saying that the country’s online gaming industry is a monopoly.
Yes they can although the government frowns upon it. According to a recent report casinos licensed in foreign jurisdictions make around $170 million out of Norwegian punters per year. Scandinavian countries like Norway, Sweden and Finland tried to block foreign operators in a bid to safeguard their state-owned casinos. Norway can get away with it because it’s not a member of the European Union.
In terms of the state (legal) betting companies in the country there are two: Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto. Norsk Tipping takes care of lotteries and casino games. Norsk Rikstoto is responsible for sports betting that involves animals and Horse Racing.
Norway’s monopolistic regime is further strengthened by the Gaming Act of 1992, the Lottery Act of 1995 and the Totalizer Act of 1927. Strictly speaking any form of betting outside the ambit of its 2 companies are deemed illegal. The government is trying to prevent offshore gaming companies from targeting Norwegian players but it’s been a futile effort thus far,
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If there’s one game that has a very colourful history in Norway, it’s slots. In 2004 the annual turn over from slot machines was around NOK 200 million and estimated that around 62% of the country’s gross gaming revenue comes from slots and lotteries.
The government banned slots in 2007 and removed around 20,000 slot machines across the country. It said that slots is exacerbates problem gambling. In 2009 under the guidance of Norsk Tipping the government allowed slots machine play again. Sounds a bit contradictory don’t you think?
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Like the majority of countries that tried to curb online gambling Norway realized that it’s fighting and losing battles. No matter how stringent its policies are players are still plying their trade at UK and Maltese licensed online casinos. In a bid to outlaw internet gambling the government even used the UIGEA (unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) of 2006 to stop local banks from processing transactions of foreign based casinos. Instead of targeting the individuals the government is going after the financial institutions. In 2013 around 30 operators admitted that they’re still accepting players from Norway.
“I hope we can have a regulatory framework in place in time for a Norway Championship of Poker to be held in Norway in 2015.” Norwegian Culture Secretary, Thorhild Widvey
Although the Norwegian government is not keen on offshore casinos since they’re in direct competition with them, they haven’t blocked the ISP’s of unregulated sites. The government intends on rolling out legislation that will prevent gaming sites offshore from running advertising campaigns in the country.
The government intends on bolstering its Payment Act by requiring banks to provide them with transaction reports, any unlicensed casino that runs an illegal media campaign will be fined heavily. In 2014 the Norwegian Gambling Authority notified European casinos that it intends on coming down hard on operators who flout its laws. Swedish gaming companies where guilty of running cross-border advertising campaigns.
Mum is still pretty much the word when it comes clamping down on online casinos based across Europe. Until the Norwegian government starts prosecuting players and unlicensed operators, residents will continue to play at our favourite UK licensed casinos.