Why is the Norwegian Gambling Industry a Monopoly Only in Theory?

When it comes to gambling in Europe, while a few nations allow complete freedom, others impose a slew of restrictions on their citizens. However, Norway fits the bill both ways. And although this might come as a surprise, despite having a strict monopoly over the nation’s gambling industry, the government allows residents to use online casinos or play free bingo without the fear of being prosecuted.

This means, in theory, Norway has a gambling monopoly. According to Norwegian regulations, state-owned Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto are allowed to offer wagering services. While commercial operators can request permission from the state authorities, they aren’t eligible for independent licensing.

Theoretical Monopoly

According to Norwegian law, licensed gaming operations must allocate 30% of profits for public welfare and an additional 35% to Norsk Tipping. Although lawmakers have often flirted with the idea of placing a permanent ban on gambling, they never went through with the implementation.

Norway’s complicated stance on competition has also attracted unwanted attention from the European Free Trade Association. And at one stage EFTA threatened to challenge the Norwegian government’s policies on monopoly if it imposed unfair restrictions on where its citizens could gamble. Sceptics believe the tough stance has more to do with the lawmakers protecting the revenue than actual concern for the citizens.

Free Market in Practice

The only good news for Norwegian punters is the government never follows through with the threats of blocking the IP addresses of the online operators. Moreover, the Totalisator Act, the Gaming Scheme Act, and the Lottery Act don’t explicitly prohibit citizens from participating in unlicensed gambling activities. In fact, Norwegians love gaming at casinos listed by casinoselfie and regularly visit offshore bingo websites.

According to rough estimates, there are a few hundred online casinos, and bingo sites in the nation and most of the operators offer their websites in multiple regional dialects including Finnish, Swedish, and Estonian, apart from Norwegian. The operators allow Norwegian citizens to sign up, play, and withdraw their winnings in Krone, and follow the same Responsible Gambling practices prevalent in other parts of Europe.

The Road Ahead

Since the authorities don’t take an active interest in banning unregulated online casinos in the country, the citizens don’t bother using a VPN. Judging by the developments in the past couple of years, the Norwegian scenery is unlikely to change anytime soon. Since the economy is heavily reliant on oil and gas reserves in the North Sea, the Norwegian government is expected to try and secure its gambling revenue as a substitute.

However, pressure from the EFTA will likely continue in the future, meaning the government should remain hesitant to introduce any further restrictions on free play. That’s great news for the Norwegian punters as they can sign up on offshore casinos without worrying about the repercussions. However, at the end of the day, monopolization is doing more harm than good to the Norwegian economy, and the financial impact will be evident soon.

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