Norway’s Tipping Point: Time To Come In From The Cold, says EGBA
It’s time for monopoly Norway to come in from the cold and liberalise its betting industry, says the top European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA).
Everywhere–from Betsson, LeoVegas, Play’nGo and Pontus Lindwall to Jette Nygaard-Andersen and Magnus Olsson, to name just a few prime movers–Scandinavian companies and talent are leading the progressive iGaming movement. But not Norway.
Now the energy-rich nation is being urged by the Brussels-based EGBA to follow the example of fellow Nordic holdout Finland and break-up its state-run gambling monopoly system.
Hitherto in Norway, Norsk Rikstoto has the exclusive rights to pari-mutuel horse racing betting, while Norsk Tipping holds the sports betting rights.
Finland has now vowed to break its state-owned Veikkaus gambling monopoly by 2025. But Norway remains adamant and committed to its national fix, even threatening to block overseas sites.
But EGBA Secretary General Maarten Haijer has now urged Norway to liberalise its gambling industry.
“In Norway, there is a clear demand for alternatives to the current gambling monopoly, as evidenced by the determination of players to actively seek out and access international websites which offer them greater choice. It is crucial for the government to recognise and respond to this demand,” argued Haijer in a statement released Monday.
“The belief that a monopoly model is essential for safer gambling does not align with the current European trend.
“Nearly every other European country has implemented some form of licensing system, successfully prioritising player safety within a regulatory framework that provides clear rules for companies to follow.
“Neighbouring countries like Sweden and Finland have already recognised the benefits of transitioning from a monopoly system to a licensing model, leaving Norway as the only country in mainland Europe committed to an exclusive gambling monopoly.”
And Haijer challenged Norwegian authorities “to evaluate whether this approach remains relevant in the modern digital age.”
But the regulatory Norwegian Gaming and Foundation Authority, known by its acronym Lottstift, has, if anything, doubled down on its monopoly powers.
Although some companies continue to work Norway’s grey off-shore market, Swedish-origin Kindred have now beaten a tactical retreat, with fellow Scandi player Betsson and ComeOn and the UK’s Bet365 set to follow.
Small it may be.
But one thing’s for sure. As the richest per-capita country in the world, thanks to its oil and gas billions, Norway has an ace up its sleeve.
Any potential tax revenues from open source gambling will be little more than proverbial chump change for a hugely-priviliged, otherwise socially-progressive, nation of just 5.4 million people.