Norway – The Last Unregulated Market in Europe

norway last unregulated market

6 minutes

Last Updated: June 16, 2023

Norwegians have always been known for their independence. Perhaps the best example is the ancient King Sverre (1184 – 1202), who defied Rome and the Catholic Church.

This is a symbolic example of the resistance to external influences from other European countries in the North.

So significant is this moment in Norway's history that it is immortalized in the second verse of the original text of the national anthem “Ja vi elsker.”

The Last Monopoly

Norway is the last country in Europe to cling to a gambling monopoly. One of the main reasons is the desire to control and regulate the market for casino in Norway. This is in order to protect vulnerable individuals and reduce the problems associated with gambling addiction.

Another argument is that the revenues from Norsk Tipping, the Norwegian state-owned gambling company, are directly reinvested into society through support for sports, culture, and humanitarian organizations.

Despite the strong influence of globalization and online presence on the internet, the Norwegian government has decided to fight to the last breath to maintain its gambling monopoly. Just like the ancient Vikings who fought their battle to their very last breath.

The MGA and Positive Impact on the Gambling Industry

The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) represents a contrasting approach to that taken by Norway, one that potentially illustrates the positive effects of a regulated market as opposed to a gambling monopoly.

The MGA is one of the leading regulatory bodies in the world of online gambling. Its main aim is to provide a safe and fair gaming environment by implementing strict regulations and by continuously monitoring the licensed operators.

A regulated market, like the one overseen by the MGA, allows for competition. This results in better services and offers for consumers.

norway casino regulation

Instead of limiting the gaming market to a single state-run entity, the MGA model allows multiple operators to provide their services, driving the market towards improved quality and user-friendly platforms.

These competitive forces typically lead to better customer service, better promotions and bonuses, a wider range of games, and generally more consumer-oriented practices.

What About Other Comparable Countries?

The other Nordic countries have succumbed to the reality of the world we live in and converted to regulated markets.

Finland is the latest country to begin the political process of dismantling its monopoly. In other words, they have come to their senses and realized that online gambling is here to stay.

That, and that it is simply not economically viable to maintain the current monopoly system through Veikkaus, the Finnish state-owned betting company.

But what is the reason for the difficulty in achieving a regulated market for casinos in Norway? To understand this, we need to look at Norsk Tipping.

Norsk Tipping

Norsk Tipping is a 100% state-owned Norwegian corporation that offers gambling and lotteries in Norway.

The company was established in 1948 and has since been responsible for organizing and operating games such as Lotto, Vikinglotto, Eurojackpot, sports betting, scratch cards, and most recently, online casinos since 2014.

Profits from Norsk Tipping are allocated to sports, culture, voluntary organizations, and socially beneficial projects. The size of this surplus has remained relatively stable at around NOK 6.5 billion in recent years.

While it is a positive approach that such a sum benefits the public, the truth is that this is a well-staged and directed show for the gallery.

Normally, a country's authorities should ensure that consumers always receive the best and most competitive offers.

A monopoly is the exact opposite of this, and ordinary competition laws should intervene and combat such cartel activities.

At least that's what we expect from civilized European countries. But in Norway, this is not the case. Why is this, and how did Norway end up where it is today?

The Surplus

Undoubtedly, the annual surplus distributed to voluntary teams and organizations, sports, culture, and other socially beneficial work is the main point here.

We would go so far as to call this a trump card that is constantly drawn upon when the discussion of license regulation arises.

We are reminded every single day through advertisements and marketing that the surplus is returned to society.

At the same time, all other operators, which are perfectly legal for the average Norwegian to play on, are referred to as illegal, providers of black-market gambling, and worse.

The bottom line is that the Norwegian population is misled into accepting that it is perfectly fine to lose money on games at Norsk Tipping, solely because the surplus is returned to society and not to a private operator abroad.

The question then becomes whether the surplus is as golden as we are led to believe.

Political Maneuvering in a Nutshell

The NOK 6.5 billion surplus is channeled back to the public through various means. But who receives these funds, and what would the alternative have been if they did not have access to this support system?

The country with one of the highest gross national products (GNP) per capita in the world is not dependent on gambling revenues to fund these purposes.

regulating online gambling in norway

Behind this, there is a politically determined reshuffling of resources. The trump card constantly shown is the repayment of the aforementioned surplus and the limitation of gambling addiction.

The harsh truth that is not publicly discussed is that only a fraction of the surplus is earmarked for combating gambling addiction.

Each year, NOK 17 million has been set aside for this purpose, but the new gambling law that came into effect on January 1, 2023, stipulates that a minimum of 0.5% of the surplus should go to this cause.

This means that out of NOK 6.5 billion, only NOK 32.5 million is allocated. A significant increase from the usual NOK 17 million, but still a meager sum considering the estimated social cost of problem gambling.

Debate Is Stifled Before It Begins

A healthy and open discussion about restructuring Norway's gambling policy is sorely missed. Today, anyone trying to defend a transition to a licensing system is attacked and harassed, both in the media and on social media.

Freedom of speech apparently does not apply equally as to other debates in the democratic kingdom of Norway.

The only ones taking this discussion seriously, and possessing invaluable knowledge on the subject, are the Norwegian enthusiasts at Kongebonus. No other casino site presents a more constructive and serious argument than they do.

Gambling Addiction and Social Consequences

The gambling monopoly has also faced criticism, especially with regards to gambling addiction and the social consequences associated with it.

Critics argue that the monopoly has not been effective enough in preventing gambling addiction and that stricter regulations and measures are needed.

Some argue that there is a double standard in the government's approach, profiting from gambling while claiming to protect the population from the harm it can cause.

The Future of Norsk Tipping – Possible Changes and the Development of the Norwegian Gambling Market

The future of Norsk Tipping and the Norwegian gambling market is uncertain. It is possible that the increasing criticism and international pressure will lead to changes in Norwegian gambling policy.

One potential development is a partial liberalization of the market, where foreign operators are granted permission to operate under strict regulations and with significant taxation.

On the other hand, Norway may choose to maintain the gambling monopoly and further improve measures to combat gambling addiction and protect vulnerable groups.

In conclusion, the MGA model offers several advantages over a monopoly model, including a competitive market that leads to better services for players, regulatory oversight for player protection, and the reinvestment of tax revenue into society.

These positive impacts may provide valuable insights into how Norway could potentially revise its gambling policy in the future.

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