When it comes to gambling in Norway, the general understanding and legislation is that gambling in Norway is illegal. But don’t let that discourage you just yet. There are still several loopholes and exceptions to these laws.
The few gambling options that they do offer are directly correlated with supporting their own infrastructure and interests. The Norwegian gaming policy has three main objectives: prevention of problematic gaming behavior, prevention of financial irregularities and limitation of private profit.
However, out of these three, under Norwegian gaming policy, responsible gaming is the prime objective. There is a large political agreement that prevails in Norway that money games must be regulated in order to prevent undesirable gambling behavior, which the country has a history of.
If any changes are to be made to the current gambling laws, they must be introduced by the Minister of Culture. Despite tough legislative gambling laws due to the fact that gambling was considered something of a vulgarity during the 50’s, Norway now has the third highest gambling rate in Europe, and it is growing more and more.
Legislation in Norway
First off, the state has a monopoly on gambling in Norway. This came about as a result of three acts that were issued in the 20th century. These acts offered some exceptions from the strict ban that had been imposed on the Norwegian gambling market for years prior.
The new additions to the legislation of the country were: the Totalisator Act of 1927, the Gaming Act of 1992 and the Lottery Act of 1995. The Totalisator Act provided the rights for Norsk Rikstoto to offer horse-racing betting activities. Then the Gaming Act granted the state-owned operator Norsk Tipping the exclusive rights to operate some lottery and soccer betting.
The Norwegian Lottery Act which was issued three years later is considered as more exhaustive due to the fact that it provided a detailed definition of all forms of lotteries and other games.
These three acts are considered by most as part of the country’s strategy of establishing a state monopoly in the gambling industry.
Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto are the only two companies in Norway that are allowed to provide gambling services to Norwegian citizens. Norsk Risktoto is the only company of the two that is allowed to arrange horse racing betting. Norsk Tipping mainly runs games like lotteries, sports betting, Keno and more.
If you visit their websites, you will be welcomed with a cascade of color and advertisements about playing many different games that could win you money. And yet citizens can still get between 3 months to 1 year in jail for illegal gambling. And, of course, fines as well.
One must be 18 or older to play any form of gambling game or place betting wagers. The only exclusion is scratch off tickets, which there is no age requirement for purchasing. Many people believe that this is having double morals and are asking that the Norwegian laws be made clearer as to what is legal and what is not. Because there seems to be uncertainty surrounding gambling laws in Norway.
Many gambling companies that wish to continue business have simply moved out of the country in order to continue providing service to their customers without fear of breaking the law.
And since Norway also has a very strict law on commercials, they also have to advertise through other foreign channels to reach their Norwegian audiences.
Poker was on the list of illegal gambling games in Norway, that is until 2015 when they lifted the law on low stakes of playing this specific game. It is now legal to play poker in your own home, although certain restrictions apply.
The most important ones being the following:
The group of people must be from around the same region or area.
The amount of money from each person playing cannot exceed 1000NOK
The total number of players cannot exceed 10.
The game must commence in a private home and cannot be an organization or have a professional mark.
Another way you can gamble in Norway is by betting on sports. The gambling situation on sports is very similar to other regions in the world. You can obviously bet the traditional way in person if you go to where the match is being played.
You can also bet at betting kiosks, with a bookmaker, or online. Sports are a huge part of Norwegian culture and daily life; particularly soccer. The main betting money game on soccer in Norway is called Tipping (which translates to Betting in English) and is run by Norsk Tipping.
The game is about betting on the correct result of the most out of twelve soccer games that are listed for a play. Tipping is offered every week on Wednesday, Saturdays, and Sundays and each of these days count as a play. It’s also possible for bettors to bet on both halftime- and end time results.
The game was first arranged in 1948, and was for a long time the only product that Norsk Tipping promoted. The usual way to bet with Tipping is to use a betting coupons or tickets through any of the channels we mentioned earlier in this section.
Horse-racing is another sport that is extremely popular in Norway, and as we mentioned briefly earlier in this article, it is solely operated by Norsk Rikstoto. Norsk Rikstoto is a freestanding, business foundation that was established in 1982 by The Norwegian Trotting Company (DNT) and the Norwegian Jockey Club (NJ).
The foundation has an executive responsibility for all effectiveness and executive economic control over the horse sport. One thing to note about horse-racing in Norway, is that it differs slightly from what most people know from horse-racing in other regions like the Great Britain.
Instead of sitting on the horse, the jockey sits in a chariot pulled by a much smaller horse than what is most frequently used in UK horse racing. Due to its unique qualities, this sport brings in thousands of viewers, and an even larger number of wagers.
Lotteries and Bingo
In Norway, there is a separately operated private lottery market which includes traditional lotteries and bingo.
The lottery in Norway, also known as “Lotto”, is operated by Norsk Tipping every Saturday. The game was established in Norway in 1986, after having been the most popular money game in Europe for many years. Since 1987, the Lotto number drawing has been televised weekly on the Norwegian national television channel (NRK).
The game is a lottery where the participants pick seven numbers which they believe will be drawn as the winning numbers out of a total of 34 numbers. In addition to the seven winning numbers, an additional number is also drawn. If no one has seven correct numbers, the first prize pot gets moved to the next weeks first prize pot; this is called the “Gold Lotto”.
When it comes to bingo playing in Norway, there are a lot of restrictions and conditions that need to be met in order to run a legitimate bingo game. First off, nonprofit organizations that have a humanitarian or cultural based purpose can hold bingo games where the surplus goes to the organizations purpose.
But before the organization can get a permit to hold bingo games it has to get approved as lottery worthy by the Lottery Committee.
Next, there are two main types of bingo in Norway. And they are as follows:
Entrepreneur bingo is where teams and organizations with lottery licenses can apply for permission to play bingo with entrepreneurs. This means that it is a professional prosecutor that arranges the bingo games on behalf of one or more teams. One has to apply yearly for the license to play bingo games in October for the year following.
The same goes for business bingo except there is no need for a prosecutor, the business/team has full handle of all the practical elements dealing with the development of the bingo game, and it is the businesses’ responsibility to ensure that the necessary accounting reporting is given to the Lottery Commission.
Under business bingo there are three different categories:
Business bingo with a turnover of up to 700,000 NOK for each organization. Here there is a demand of a full accounting report.
Business bingo with a turnover of up to 250,000 NOK for each organization. Here the organization must send in a simplified accounting report.
Radio bingo and tv bingo for stations with concession. Here there is no turnover limit. But only local radio stations and local tv stations with concession can arrange bingo games on local radio and local tv.
Slots used to be legal in Norway, brought millions of Norwegian Kroner each year and had particularly large growth in the early 2000s. The income from these slot machines used to go to the Red Cross or other good and charitable causes in the communities.
So why are they no longer legal you may ask?
Well, the sad truth is that the number of problem gamblers was about proportionate with the number of slot machines. Because of the enormity of this problem, slot machines were officially banned by the Norwegian government in 2007.
And although the Norwegian government tried to replace slots with IVT’s (interactive video terminals) in 2009, it simply wasn’t as user friendly and attractive as slot machines since one must have a special card to use them.
So, due to the lack of slot machines today, it has become more popular in Norway to play games on the internet, thus largely increasing the demand for online gaming and betting.
Something you might not have guessed due to Norway’s strict gambling laws, is that there are actually no specific laws against gambling online in Norway. So, as you can imagine gambling online is extremely popular and heavily used. Another reason for its popularity is there are no land based casinos in Norway, as they are not legal either.
So, although this hits the Norwegian gambling industry pretty hard, that definitely doesn’t stop Norwegians from gambling. Where there is a will, there is a way, and they sure have found a way. It’s estimated that about 80% of Norwegians gamble in some form or another. Norsk Tipping has tried to get more players to play on their sites by offering progressive jackpots and more casino games.
But the truth is that the game selection is so much better with the foreign sites that most people choose to play with them rather than Norsk Tipping. Because of the huge amount of Norwegian online players, many gambling sites have taken strides to accommodate them and offer more of the games that they seem to be most interested in.
Another difficult hurdle to jump over when it comes to gambling laws in Norway is that it is currently illegal for Norwegian banks to transfer money between foreign gaming companies and Norwegians bank accounts.
Now, this may seem like an impossible hurdle to jump, but many gaming companies have put safe and trustworthy solutions in place for their customers. These solutions make it easy for Norwegian players to deposit and withdraw money, and you can even use VISA to make your deposits.
Where can I gamble in Norway?
As we mentioned earlier in this article, land based casinos are illegal and therefore do not exist at all in Norway. But they do have many Norwegian online casinos and gambling sites. The following is a list of some of the best and most popular sites amongst Norwegians.
They have Norwegian language in their games, Norwegian specific customer service, and also make it easy to transfer money to their gaming accounts. All of them offer poker, casino games, and betting.
Norway Gambling Fun Facts
An interesting fact about Norsk Tipping, especially from the perspective of foreigners, is that Norsk Tipping has a monopoly on everything that has to do with gambling. The money that is made through Norsk Tipping goes back to its grass roots, to organizations that have to do with sports and culture. Norsk Tipping is also the main sponsor of the elite soccer tournament called Tippeligaen.
A fun fact about gambling in Norway is that an unusually large number of Lottery millionaires come from the same county of Verdal. At one point it was a running joke that one only had to move to Verdal to win the lottery. Although this isn’t true of course, the likelihood still seems possible.
Another fun fact is that Norway has produced some of the best poker players in recent years, including Annette Obrestad, the youngest player ever to win a World Series of Poker bracelet.
It will be interesting to see where gambling in Norway goes in the next few years.
Will their strict gambling laws prevail?
Or will the sheer number of gamblers and demand for more gambling options lead to a change in legislation structure?
Only time will tell, but we will continue to stay involved and keep you updated on all important changes that may affect you and gambling in Norway.