Norway to Fight Overseas Gambling Advertisements Following Loophole

Norway’s government has come up with legislative changes to prohibit offshore gaming companies from advertising on the country’s television. The proposed amendments to the Broadcasting Act seek to require Norwegian Media Authority to order Norwegian television distributors and internet providers to avoid access to illegal marketing.

Such talks have been going on since 2017, and since the government has been making efforts to avoid advertisements in the country by unlicensed operators. The big issue is a loophole, commonly exploited by non-local companies, which allows them to advertise from international locations through channels that broadcast to Norway.

The gambling regulatory authority, Lotteri-og stiftelsestilsynet (Lottstift), conducted a consultation on the matter in April 2018. In addition, the authority issued a warning to local newspaper outlets, telling them not to carry out the chances that unlicensed operators had provided.

The Minister of Culture and Gender Equality Abid Q Raja said the amendments are being proposed because it has been difficult to enforce the ban on the marketing of illegal gambling. What Raja aims at is for the TV stations that broadcast to Norway to operate outside the jurisdiction of the country, which is why full control is unlikely.

Raja remarked: “For the government, this is a value choice where the interests of people with gambling problems and their relatives must take precedence over financial considerations.”

At the moment Norway has only two state-owned entities licenced to sell gambling goods and advertise them. Due to an agreement with Scientific Games, Norsk Tipping shows draw-based and casino games, and also supplies video terminals. Norsk Rikstoto provides totalisator games.

Together these organisations raise money for socially beneficial reasons, including humanitarian work, sports health care, research and cultural activities, raising 5.5bn NOK in 2018.

As a tiny reminder, Norsk Tipping openly supported a petition, as the number of players experiencing problem behaviour has increased dramatically. More importantly, the lottery company decided to stop advertising on casino games as well as providing incentives and casino spins.

If the ban comes into effect, broadcasters could see advertising revenue cut by as much as NOK500 m per annum.

Last October the regulator announced a 19 percent year-on-year drop in offshore operators’ advertisement spending over the previous year. According to the country’s media watchdog Medietilsynet data, based on a report from Nielsen Media Data, advertisement expenditure by unlicensed companies increased to NOK631.0 m (£ 44.5m/€49.8m/$54.8 m) over the 12 months to 30 July 2019.

As of 1 January 2020, Norway adopted, among other measures, a ban on payments to unlicensed operators. Such reforms, presented in August 2018, met with negative criticism on behalf of the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), which proposed a reform of the law to enable all sides to coexist without jeopardising one another.