Facebook Removes 36 Unlicensed Norwegian Gambling Pages

  • Pokio, Vera & John, Guts, and ComeOn were among the sites that had Facebook pages removed
  • The Facebook content encouraged Norwegians to sign up for online gambling accounts
  • Norwegian law does not permit offshore gambling companies to market to residents
  • Norway’s gambling regulator noted that this form of marketing also violates Facebook’s rules
Facebook logo covered by red circle with a slash through it
Upon request from Norway’s gambling regulator, Facebook has removed 36 gambling pages that were illegally targeting Norwegian residents. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Clamping down

Facebook has taken down 36 pages that promoted unlicensed gambling operations in Norway after receiving a request from the Norwegian gambling regulator. 

Lotteri-og Stiftelsestilsynet (Lotteritilsynet) oversees the regulation of the gambling space in Norway and ensures that errant operators do not target Norwegian residents. The pages taken down included those for Pokio, Vera & John, Norgesautomaten, Guts, ComeOn, Vennepoker and Kommunepoker.

offshore gambling operators are prohibited from marketing to the nation’s residents

The content on the Facebook pages was in Norwegian and called on residents to sign up for accounts. This practice is not allowed in Norway, as offshore gambling operators are prohibited from marketing to the nation’s residents. 

Facebook was helpful

Lotteritilsynet also noted that this type of promotional activity violates Facebook’s own rules. To market through a Facebook page, a gambling platform must be licensed to operate in the nation it is targeting. The gambling regulator noted in a Monday statement that it has reported instances of illegal marketing to Facebook for several years.

Lotteritilsynet’s lawyer and senior advisor Monica Alisøy Kjelsnes said that the regulator was happy that Facebook removed these pages. She added, however, that more still needs to be done to crack down on unlicensed operators that target locals.

She said that other vehicles such as television commercials, sponsorship deals, and non-social media websites were also being used by these operators to access Norwegian players.

Battling against offshore operators

The Norwegian parliament approved a legislative amendment in May that made it illegal for offshore gambling sites to advertise to Norwegian consumers online. The legislation gives more power to the Norwegian Media Authority to battle these operators, including the ability to issue orders to media companies and internet service providers to block such marketing efforts. 

Parliament approved a provision related to the Broadcasting Act that allows the Norwegian Media Authority to issue orders to domestic broadcasters in order to prevent them from airing advertisements from offshore operators. This amendment will not take effect until January 1, 2021. The government has also been looking at ways to block payment processing to offshore sites.

Norway is one of just a few European nations to still have a monopolistic gambling model. Currently, the state-run Norsk Tipping is the sole licensed operator for online gambling, allowed to offer sports betting, lotteries and keno.