European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) Secretary General Maarten Haijer has urged Norway to call a close to its monopoly licensing system.
Norway is currently one of the only European and Nordic countries, alongside Finland, to still have a monopoly system in place. Norsk Rikstoto holds exclusive rights to pari-mutuel horse racing betting and Norsk Tipping for sports wagering.
However, it seems that the use of monopoly licencing systems in Europe is coming to a close, as Finland looks set to to usher in a partial-licencing model by 2025 which would see permits issued for sports betting but Veikkaus retain its monopoly for gaming and lotteries.
Haijer remarked: “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.
“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.”
Regulatory authorities in Norway seem intent on retaining the monopoly, however, based on recent events. Last week, the Lottstift – Norway’s Gambling Authority – released a statement asserting that four prominent betting groups were ‘withdrawing’ from the country.
Some of the operators in question asserted to SBC that they are not active in the Norwegian market but that Norwegian customers are free to use their products and services on the international market.
Introducing a licensing system would address the demand for alternative gambling options, increase tax revenue, and enhance safer gambling measures by regulating more operators within the country.
In his own statement, the EGBA’s Haijer offered a similar argument to the one that has been used in Finland – that being that adoption of a more open licensing model would stop Norwegians betting with overseas firms and as a result offer greater player protection.
He continued: “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.
“It is essential for the authorities to evaluate whether this approach remains relevant in the modern digital age and in comparison to the practices adopted by other European countries.
“We strongly urge the Norwegian authorities to consider the advantages of a licensing model, which can effectively meet the evolving needs of its players and foster a more comprehensive approach to gambling regulation that prioritises player safety.”
On the other hand, the Lottstift is due to gain greater power next year, as it will be afforded the ability to block websites. This may encourage the retention of the monopoly system, with Rikstoto and Tipping maintaining exclusive rights to racing and sports betting in the country whilst overseas sites are blocked.