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Betting in Norway

Published on: 01/02/2016

Gambling in Norway has an illustrious past, similar to that of other European nations. Although it was briefly suppressed in the middle of the 20th century, Norway’s gambling industry gradually recovered, and by 1999, the countries wagering per capita elevated to reach third in all of Europe, with just Spain and Italy in front. A negative off-shoot of the nation’s enthusiasm for betting has been the rise in gambling-related issues, which the government has struggled to resolve. At the turn of the 21st century, the Norwegian Gaming Board was founded to manage the nations gambling activity - both public and private. The board works closely with the local police authorities and the Ministry of Justice to evaluate legislation and form gambling policy.

In the past, off-shore sportsbooks were legally permitted to provide gambling services in Norway, but this changed when the Norwegian Gaming Board initialized a government authorised monopoly over the gambling industry, whereby only two betting organizations were permitted to offer sportsbooks in Norway.

One of these companies, Norsk Tipping, takes bets on Premier League football and sports events, and also offers a state lottery. The other betting company, Norsk Rikstoto, is approved to control all pari-mutuel betting throughout the country.

Norway has two large casinos, the Øvrevoll Galoppbane in Oslo and the Travbane in Drammen; both casinos specialize in horse racing. Over 20,000 gambling machines can be found throughout the nation, generating approximately $10 billion every year. Nearly all of the revenues are used for the benefit of the state as opposed to private matters. As of 2004, citizens must be 18 or over to gamble in Norway.

Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto are the only two companies with licences to offer online sportsbooks for online gambling. Many numerous sportsbooks, including some well known companies such as William Hill have tried to attract trade from the people of Norway, however the Norwegian government took steps to stop the competition. In 2008, new gambling laws were proposed to prohibit trade between Norwegian wagers and foreign gambling web sites. The law became official in 2010.

Norway has declined to join the EU on two occasions, and this has made it virtually impossible for other countries to intervene with regards to Norway’s gambling laws, or its monopoly on sports betting via the internet Despite this, Norway’s restrictive regulations have not deterred over three hundred off-shore sports betting web sites including Unibet, Ladbrokes, Bwin, Expekt and Bet365 from welcoming play from the Norwegian citizens. Established companies such as Bwin, Ladbrokes, Unibet, Bet365, Expekt also provide information in the Norwegian language.

Reports suggest that more than 2,000 betting sites accept Visa or MasterCard financial transactions from Norwegian punters, with more than 200 offering support in the Norwegian language. Electronic wallet companies such as NETeller and Moneybookers are also happy to perform withdrawals and deposits from Norway either using the national currency, the Krone, or Euros.

Currently the Norwegian Government are considering various options regarding the nations gambling industry, with the main focus being on safeguarding the states gambling exclusiveness. Politicians are contemplating the action of barring the ISPs of internet betting web sites; however there are questions as to whether this move would fuel the illegal wagering which has previously proliferated because of the lack of legal gambling opportunities. In 2007, the Norwegian Gaming Board carried out an investigation which revealed that out of 3,000 gamblers, 1.3% of those were problem gamblers. The survey was carried out again three years later, only to show that, despite the implementation of stricter gambling laws, the numbers of problem gamblers had in actual fact doubled.

The citizens of Norway have become more inclined to frequent foreign sportsbooks and unregulated gambling operations due to the lack of legal gambling options. If the Norwegian government were to open up the market this could help to reduce underground operations.