In its official response last October – submitted during a consultation phase on proposed new legislation – the Norwegian Industry Association for Online Gaming (NBO) criticised the proposed new gaming regulations, applying to Norwegian casino and the country’s gambling legislation. 

The NBO said that by seeking to unify the existing Lottery Act, Gambling Act and Totalisator Act, and by maintaining the monopolies that Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto currently enjoy, the proposed legislation – which has been submitted to the European Commission – would offer poor standards of protection and value for customers. 

But will increases in regulations and laws in the Norwegian market help to protect players and encourage sustainable gambling? Or will it cause more damage?

Some argue that the monopoly in the market acts as a hindrance in the gaming industry, providing poor protection since channelling rates to today’s monopoly holders are low. What does this mean? 

Currently, channelling rates are lower than 50 per cent in the Norwegian gaming market – this means that half of the players are drawn to foreign online operators that don’t follow Norwegian regulations, resulting in players being unprotected during their iGaming exposure. This causes gambling problems that could be eradicated with the NBO’s suggestion of increasing channelling to 95 per cent. If channelling is increased, players are more protected – and the government will have more control as well as higher tax income. 

In order to achieve this, the NBO suggested that licensing models for private providers should increase their tax rate to 15 per cent. This would, in turn, feed more funds into the industry, protecting the players in the long run. It would also generate a tax revenue of NOK1.215bn (approximately €115m), profits which they suggested could be distributed in the same manner as was done for Norks Tipping. 

Currently Norway does not have any licensing models – meaning that gambling companies, excluding monopoly holders, are banned from operating in the Norwegian market. This, however, is virtually impossible to enforce, since various operators are located abroad and operate online. In fact, the significance of international gaming sites in Norway is incredible, with affiliate sites drawing in gamers based on their casino bonus perks and other factors including free spins and other incentives to draw players to their site and retain them as loyal customers. 

The government’s final decision on the matter was to go through with their proposed plans after consultation and confirmation was granted by Norwegian regulators on September 29. They also suggested that tighter restrictions be placed upon gamers, limiting playtime to registered players only.

This was done to ensure that all monitoring takes place effectively and sees that no registered players develop unhealthy iGaming habits.

So the main question here is: do harsh regulations help the iGaming industry remain sustainable? Or do they slowly help to eradicate the niche entirely? 

The iGaming industry, in Norway and beyond is all about entertainment, it’s all about trying your luck, risking a few coins and the adrenaline of it all. But it can get addictive – and this is why regulations are absolutely necessary and need to be updated regularly. 

Gamblers need a safe environment where to enjoy a few spins of the wheel, a few cascading tokens disappear on the reels and a few bonus rounds to brighten up their day. With monitoring and analysis, the iGaming industry will soar, keeping casino providers and affiliates on the ball with their players’ performance and gaming patterns. 

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