Although many interpreted Norway’s decision to lift the ban against live poker as a prelude to a liberalization of the online industry, a report submitted to the country’s Ministry of Culture proposes to go in the exact opposite direction.
Following a mandate issued in 2013 by Norway’s Ministry of Culture "to study technological developments in the gaming marker," a committee of experts has come to the conclusion that the country should strengthen its monopolistic approach to online gambling and implement new policies to limit the operations of illegal and gray-area international operators.
"Today’s legal gaming market in Norway is being significantly challenged by competition from foreign betting companies on the Internet," the report said. "Roughly one-tenth of gross gaming revenue in the Norwegian gaming market takes place through Norwegians gambling with foreign betting companies."
According to the report, "gambling on foreign websites accounts for nine percent of the total Norwegian gambling market." The committee believes that "Norwegians have spent roughly NOK 1 billion abroad," and refers to this amount as a "gambling leakage" that authorities should try to stop.
"Norway is now at a crossroads and the authorities must make certain choices," the report stated.
In order to limit the role of international operators in the country, Norway's gambling experts seem to believe that the authorities will have to act on several different levels and implement new policies to raise awareness on the issue of illegal gambling as well as establishing new cooperation agreements with the the financial institutions that operate in Norway.
Among the measures that the committee recommends to "protect Norwegian games of chance from competition from abroad," the report explicitly mentions new rules for gambling advertising and transfers to and from operators.
"Many Norwegians are unaware that it is prohibited for foreign betting companies to offer online gambling to Norwegians, and that the banks in Norway are not allowed to transfer money to these betting companies," the report explained.
It added, "The cash flow from Norway to the foreign betting companies takes place seamlessly despite the banks' prohibition on transferring payments," and "Most gamblers are not aware of the prohibition because the companies have come up with solutions to avoid payments being stopped."
In this sense, the committee suggests that "the prohibition on payment transfers must be made more effective in consultation with the banking industry through a closer cooperation with the banking industry."
From a media perspective, the report issued by the committee of experts suggests the Ministry of Culture to initiate some new procedures "in accordance with the Audiovisual Media Services (AMS) Directive in order to stop advertising on Norwegian television for foreign betting companies that do not have a permit in Norway."
According to the members of the committee, "one of the most important means of protecting Norwegian games of chance is to stop this uncontrolled flow of adverting that is broadcast right into Norwegian homes," and that’s why the report asks authorities to "make active use of their direct and indirect ownership of media and television companies as a means of achieving the goals of Norway’s gaming policy."
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