Operators Form Lobby Group to Tackle Gambling in Norway

Aurora borealis (Northern Lights) over mountains in Norway

30-second summary

  • Norway has a monopolistic stance on online gambling
  • Lawsuit filed for unfair restriction of trade
  • How and why the NBO was formed

Norway’s online gambling stance

Norway’s government is accused of having a monopolistic stance when it comes to online gambling. There a couple of reasons: 1) It has shown very little interest in embracing change; 2) It have attempted to limit locals’ access to international gambling sites by restricting payment processing channels, prohibiting advertising, and even blocking unauthorized domains. These behaviors have led to a suit for “unfair restriction of trade” against the Norwegian Gaming Association (NGA) and Norway’s Ministry of Culture.

Kindred’s Norwegian subsidiary Trannel International” filed the lawsuit in December because the NGA convinced Apple to purge its betting app (and many others run by other firms) from the Norwegian App Store and for the aforementioned payment blocking. Now, several large-scale operators have created a new lobbying group calling for a more open and transparent gambling landscape in Norway.

Formation of the NBO

The Norwegian Industry Association for Online Gambling (NBO), as it has come to be known, is made up of European online gambling operators Kindred Group, Gaming Innovation Group (GiG), Cherry AB’s ComeOn brand, and Betsson.

Their core role will be to encourage Norway’s government to embrace a more liberalized regime that would allow applications for local licenses by the international online gambling operator community.

Carl Fredrik Stenstrøm has been announced as the secretary-general for the NBO. The chairman is Rolf Sims, a former Ministry of Culture veteran who helped craft Norway’s gambling policy and is currently the public affairs manager for Kindred.

Stenstrøm said: “The regulatory regimes in Denmark and (as of January 1) Sweden recognize that regulating ‘all the serious companies under one, responsible license model’ is the proper way to go.” He also explained that if his experiences have taught him anything, it is that such efforts to instill responsible gambling initiatives really isn’t of much use if the huge segment of the marketplace is ignored – a segment the government has no control over.

Last August, the four founding companies of the NBO announced that a more open online gambling licensing system would offer greater regulatory oversight, increased control over problem gambling, and better value for the gambling customer. Their report, however, was immediately dismissed by the deputy director-general of the NGA, Henrik Nordal. They then went on to form the NBO, where the hope is to enlist other European Economic Area and European Union operators to change the direction of online gambling in Norway.