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Gambling Laws and Regulation in Norway

Gambling has been a complex topic for Norwegians. That’s because the gambling laws and regulations in Norway are outdated and ineffective.

Political leaders in Norway recognize the need for updated gambling legislation. But their focus is primarily on preventing gambling addiction.

With that in mind, Norway introduced new gambling legislation that is supposed to come into effect in 2021.

We explore the current gambling laws in Norway and their latest legislation below. We also look at how Norway uses its gambling laws to favor state-operated monopolies.

Let’s start with the laws for online gambling in Norway.

Online Gambling Laws in Norway

The last time Norway updated its gambling laws was in 1995. Online gambling was just beginning when the country passed the Lottery Act.

Due to this timing, the current gambling laws do not address the legality of online gambling in Norway.

Over the past twenty-five years, Norway has tried to deal with online gambling concerns in other ways. For example, the Payment Act of 2010 prohibited banks from processing online gambling transactions.

Some Norwegian laws make online gambling more complicated. But none of the gambling laws in Norway explicitly prohibit or regulate online gambling.

Regulated online gambling is available through sites operated by the state monopoly, Norsk Tipping.

Norwegians are also free to use online gambling sites that are operated by companies in another country. There is no law against gambling on out-of-area online casinos and betting sites.

Statistics show that many Norwegians take advantage of this option. More than 50% of online gambling revenue in Norway goes to foreign operators.

The coronavirus pandemic compounded the situation. Norwegian online gambling participation increased by 62% during the pandemic.

In response, Norway’s political leaders drafted a new Gambling Act.

Norway’s Gambling Act of 2021

New online gambling legislation in Norway

The 2021 version of Norway’s gambling legislation does not change much as far as online gambling goes.

Online gambling will be allowed, but it will only be available through state-operated sites.

Norway’s state monopoly sites will be able to offer lottery games, sports betting, and keno. They will not have casino games like poker or slot machines.

There will also be several restrictions placed on players in the latest versions of the online gambling laws in Norway.

For example, political leaders are considering time and betting limits. The software will be programmed to automatically block players from a site if they play for too long.

The first priority of the online gambling legislation in Norway is to create a regulatory framework. It will combine the previous laws to create a unified regulatory system.

That part of the legislation has already been submitted to the European Commission.

It has to be approved by the Commission before Norway can continue its legislative process. Most likely, the Commission will approve the law before Summer 2021.

New Norway Gambling Laws Left Open-Ended

Norwegian Industry Association for Online Gaming

Many aspects of the new regulatory framework have been left open-ended. It doesn’t address some specific issues so that politicians can introduce new regulations later.

One suggested regulation is a warning requirement. Internet service providers would have to create a warning that will automatically pop up whenever players access gambling sites from outside the country.

That regulation will most likely be ineffective.

There may be gamblers who do not know or understand the current gambling laws and regulations in Norway. But most players already know that they are accessing overseas sites. They will continue to use them anyway.

The Norwegian Industry Association for Online Gaming, or NBO, agrees.

The NBO thinks a regulated market that licenses foreign companies would be far more effective. They recommend imposing a 15% tax rate that could potentially raise 1.25 billion kroner.

Criticism from NBO and other gambling organizations has been unproductive so far. Political leaders have chosen to continue the process with the Gambling Act as it was. Once the European Commission approves the law, they will be able to finalize the regulations.

The final version of Norway gambling legislation is expected to come into effect in late 2021.

What Norway’s Online Gambling Laws Mean for Players

Laws for Norwegian gamblers

The new online gambling laws in Norway are not going to change much from a player perspective.

Once the legislation goes into effect, Norwegian gamblers will have two options.

  • Use a state-regulated gambling site, such as Norsk Tipping or Norsk Rikstoto
  • Continue using out-of-area gambling sites

Norwegian political leaders would prefer that gamblers avoid out-of-area sites. They claim that they are more dangerous and lead to more problem gambling.

However, many reputable and licensed sites from outside the country are just as safe as the sites that Norway regulates.

You are not breaking any Norway online gambling laws if you choose to gamble with an overseas website.

Norway has left its gambling laws open for future regulations and could decide to make it more challenging to access out-of-area sites.

For example, Norway may require ISPs to block access to specific sites.

You can check Norway’s Gaming Authority website for the latest information on the status of the Gambling Act and future regulations it may impose.

Norwegian gamblers should be aware of any future regulations that may affect their experience with overseas gambling sites. For now, they are free to continue using those sites.

Regulated Gambling in Norway

Norwegian gambling laws state that companies need a license to operate a gambling business. There are only two state-operated companies that have a gambling license in Norway.

Both companies have restrictions on the types of gambling they can offer. There are also special rules that they must follow according to Norwegian gambling laws and regulations.

The following table shows the types of regulated gambling in Norway and the restrictions operators must follow.

Option Types of Gambling Allowed Online Gambling Options Licensing Authority Relevant Legislation Other Restrictions
Norsk Tipping Lotteries, sports betting, poker, keno, scratch-card games Yes Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs Gaming Act of 1992, Lottery Act of 1995, Gambling Act of 2021 Profits must support sports, science, or culture.
Norsk Rikstoto Horse race betting Yes Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs Totalisator Act of 1927, Gambling Act of 2021 Profits must support the equestrian industry
Private Gambling Activities Private No No License Necessary Lottery Act Amendment 2015 No more than 20 people; All participants must live in the same region; Players cannot spend more than 1,000 NOK to participate; Activities must take place in a private residence

Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto must also agree to player protection rules, are subject to administrative sanctions, and are required to submit financial reports which are dependent on their gambling revenue.

You’ll also notice that private gambling is allowed in Norway. You don’t need a license, but bear in mind there are rules you must follow if you want to host or participate in a private game.

Our table says nothing specific about playing casino slots for real money, though. Is it legal to play slot machines in Norway?

Slot Machine Gambling in Norway

Many of the Norwegian laws for gambling are a reaction to the people’s gambling habits and changing technology.

For example, in 1995, the Lottery Act permitted the operation of slot machines for charitable causes. Private companies were allowed to partner with charitable organizations and split the profits.

During the next decade, slot machine technology advanced quickly.

New slot machines had extra features, progressive jackpots, and 3D graphics. These innovations made slot machine games more popular than ever.

Here is a graph that shows the exponential growth of slot machine revenue in Norway during this time.

Slot revenue in Norway increased by 13,000x between 1990-2004.

Most of the revenue generated by slot machines benefitted the Red Cross and other charitable causes.

You might think that the government would be excited about all of that revenue. But that was not the case. Instead, Norway’s political leaders were concerned.

The slot machine industry was poorly regulated and growing too rapidly. And, according to the Statement of Defence, problem gambling was almost entirely caused by slot machines. The number of problem gamblers in Norway had grown to 71,000 by 2005.

So, legislators drafted a new slot machine law that was introduced in 2003.

Companies that partnered with charitable organizations to operate slot machines opposed the bill. Because of their legal challenges, the issue did not get resolved until 2007.

At that point, slot machines were banned altogether.

New IVT Gambling Laws in Norway

Interactive Video Terminals in Norway

In 2009, new gambling legislation in Norway passed that allowed Interactive Video Terminals. These IVTs were supposed to take the place of slot machines.

However, they required players to have a special card that would give them access. That made it more difficult for the players to enjoy the games.

All of the IVT machines were connected to a central server. The server would track players’ data based on their player’s card.

It gathered information about how long each player had been playing, how much they had spent, and how much they were betting each time.

The IVTs had several limits. They had global loss limits of 400 NOK per day or 2,200 NOK per month. Players could not bet more than 50 NOK, and they had personal loss limits as well.

For every hour that a player spent on an IVT, they were forced to take a mandatory 10-minute break before playing again.

To make matters worse, the maximum prize that players could win on IVTs was 1,500 NOK.

All of those limits, the smaller prizes, and the hassle of getting a special player’s card affected the popularity of IVTs. Most players believed these games were not worthwhile.

There are still IVTs available in Norway today. But only a handful of players take advantage of them. Most players prefer to use online slot machines instead.

History of Gambling in Norway

Gaming laws in Norway were the same for most of the 20th century. But within the past three decades, a lot has changed.

Here is an overview of the history behind Norway’s laws for gambling.

1875 Det Norske Travselskap (DNT) launched. It is Norway’s trotting and horse breeding company.
1927 Norway passed the Totalisator Act, giving Norsk Rikstoto authorization to oversee horse race betting.
1932 The Norwegian Jockey Club started. It operates under Norsk Rikstoto, along with DNT.
1946 Storting passed the Tipping Act, which was a precursor to the Gaming Act of 1992. It gave Norsk Tipping a license to offer sports betting for five years.
1948 Norsk Tipping created the Tipping game that allows betting on soccer.
1986 Norsk Tipping began offering the Lotto draw numbers game.
1992 Norway passed the Gaming Act of 1992. This law granted Norsk Tipping exclusive rights to operate lottery games and soccer betting.
1993 VikingLotto launched as the world’s first multi-national lottery game with weekly drawings. Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland were the first countries to join.
1995 The Norwegian Lottery Act got passed. It revised the Gaming Act of 1992 and gave Norsk Tipping authority to offer a wide range of gambling activities. These options include lottery, sports betting, bingo, keno, and slot machines.
2001 Norsk Tipping began a pilot program to offer online games. It did not open the program to the public until the following year.
2003 Legislators introduced a bill to restrict access to slot machines. Slot machine companies opposed this bill.
2006 The Supreme Court and EFTA Court ruled against the slot machine companies that had tried to oppose the 2003 bill.
2007 A new gambling law in Norway passes, prohibiting slot machines throughout the country.
2009 Norway introduces IVTs as an alternative to slot machines.
2010 The Payment Act prohibits Norwegian banks from processing online gambling transactions.
2015 An amendment to the Lottery Act lifts the ban on private gambling activities, allowing low-stakes, private poker games.
2020 Norway submits its new Gambling Act to the European Commission for review.
2021 The Gambling Act of 2021 will go into effect. It will unify previous Norway gambling laws and create a better regulatory structure.

Where to Legally Gamble Online in Norway

Norway online gambling laws leave players with two options.

  • Wager at state-regulated sites.
  • Use out-of-area online gambling sites.

The state-operated sites are very limited. For casino games like slot machines, blackjack, and poker, most players prefer out-of-area casino sites.

State-regulated sites for sports betting are available, but out-of-area sites might have better odds or bonuses.

The online gambling laws in Norway will most likely change when the 2021 Gambling Act goes into effect. Right now, the law looks like it will maintain the status quo.

Norway’s Gambling Laws FAQ

Are Slot Machines Legal in Norway?
A

Slot machines were legal in Norway from 1995 until 2007. Norsk Tipping does have online slot machines available, but they have strict betting limits.

What Are IVTs? Are They Still Available in Norway?
A

Interactive Video Terminals were supposed to replace slot machines in Norway. They were introduced in 2009.

You can still play IVT’s in Norway. However, you must get a special player’s card to get access, and they are heavily regulated.

What is Tipping in Norway?
A

Tipping translates to betting or gambling in Norwegian. But the word can also refer to a specific betting game from Norsk Tipping.

This game requires you to bet on the results of twelve games. If you get ten or more correct, you can win a prize. Tipping is available on Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays.

What Are the Gambling Laws for Bingo in Norway?
A

Norway gaming laws extend to bingo games. Businesses can get a bingo license that depends on whether they will operate the games on their own or work with an approved operator.

There are different account reporting requirements that depend on how much turnover a bingo business generates.

What Are the Punishments for Online Gambling in Norway?
A

Most of Norway’s gambling laws and regulations apply to business operators instead of individual players. The consequences for illegal gambling in Norway range from 3-12 months jail time.

Do You Have To Pay Taxes on Gambling Earnings in Norway?
A

Yes. Norway requires gamblers to report their gambling winnings and pay tax on them. That includes winnings from foreign gambling sites.

You will pay 28% if you win more than 10,000 NOK. If you use the state-regulated sites, you may be able to get a tax exemption.