During this spring’s pandemic lockdown, Norway’s gaming monopoly said it did not experience any mass increase in problematic online casino operation, partially due to the expenditure restrictions of the state-run business.
On Friday, after the country declared a national state of emergency on March 13 because of COVID-19, Norsk Tipping released a study on Norwegian gambling activity. This culminated in the closing of all retail gaming activities, including the slots halls of Multix and Belago, while the suspension of major league play was influenced by sports betting.
As other gambling opportunities dried up, Lotteries registered a small surge in activity in April, but this is a seasonal phenomenon due to Easter-related promotions. By May, lottery sales settled down quickly to a more usual level and stayed there through September.
In April, Norsk Tipping’s Oddsen sports betting product announced revenues plunging “to a pale minimum” as most bettors were not drawn by a betting slate of eSports and Belarusian football, many of whom “disappeared from all gaming when their main interest disappeared.”
The pandemic was essentially unaffected by online bingo. Online casinos and digital lottery scratch cards-the key areas of concern for problem gambling by Norsk Tipping-reported “a small increase” in activity but not much more than the online casino’s steady growth in recent years and definitely not enough to replace revenue lost by decreases in sports betting and retail slots.
Norsk Tipping imposes strict restrictions on online casino spending, which resulted in spending increases during the initial week of each lockdown month, followed each week by sequential declines before the calendar flipped to a new month and the cycle began again. By the end of May, however the economy started to normalise.
In terms of problem gambling activity, Norsk Tipping applies a green-yellow-red colour code to its gamblers, and the two weeks following the lockout on March 13 were “greener than in many years.” In July, online casino saw a red spike, apparently due to the late realisation by land-based slots players that they had online options, but since then this level had somewhat” declined.
Norsk Tipping says it’s difficult to assess if the enduring effect of the pandemic on Norway’s problem gamblers is a return to normalcy. In its next report, which will concentrate on the personal experiences of clients during the lockdown, the company promised more information.
Norway also clings to its state-run monopoly gambling model in the few European markets and is completely disinterested in discussing more open alternatives. The government has recently announced plans to unify its three-headed gambling regulatory system into a single body, allowing Norsk Tipping and its racing counterpart Norsk Rikstoto to gain greater powers to attack globally licenced online competitors.