Norway’s monopoly brought into question as problem gambling rates increase

New research carried out by the University of Bergen has revealed a 62% increase in Norway’s problem gambling rate, bringing the effectiveness of the country’s monopoly into question.

The research, commissioned by Norway’s Gaming and Foundation Authority, surveyed 9,000 citizens aged between 16-74 and found that 55,000 people are now affected by problem gambling, with a further 122,000 estimated to be at risk.

Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), commented: “These research findings are worrying and prove Norway’s gambling monopoly is not protecting its citizens. Gamblers tend to shop around for the best betting odds or bonuses and, if they are faced with restricted choices, they will simply look elsewhere to find them.

“That’s why the vast majority of European countries have rejected monopolies in favour of licensing-based online regulation and it’s only a matter of time before Norway will have to do the same. Providing the consumer with choice leads to better channeling, better tax revenues for the state and better consumer protection.”

Gambling in Norway is maintained by the government-owned Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto companies, which have exclusive monopoly rights to provide all gambling and horse racing respectively.

The new research casts doubts over previous claims that the Norweigan gambling monopoly ‘can be better managed by the state rather than private companies’.

Data has shown that approximately half of Norway’s gamblers have chosen to play via international betting sites, due to more competitive odds and ‘attractive games’. This means, however, that players are not protected by the monopoly’s gambling regulations which can subsequently result in increased problem gambling rates.

This May, a working group of Norwegian addiction charities called for the government to conduct a study of different market models. The Charities underlined that Norway’s ‘1995 Lottery Act’ was in need of urgent assessment following radical changes in the market.

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