Gambling is “mostly” illegal in Norway. However, it’s not totally out of the picture for Norwegians. The fact that we said it’s “mostly” illegal should signify that there are ways citizens can play their favorite games.
It’s important that any gambling option in Norway has measures in place to combat problem gambling, avoids falling into financial problems, and prevents private firms from jumping on the profits.
It’s a strange situation.
The government and relevant authorities claim that their strict laws ensure that everyone can gamble responsibly. However, the number of people gambling in Norway is on the rise – it’s even the third biggest country for gambling in Europe.
If you’re planning a trip to Norway and want to try your luck, it’s important you know exactly what you can and cannot do.
So with this in mind, here are five things you should know about the gambling laws in Norway.
1. The Gambling Laws Have Created A Monopoly
If you go to the likes of Las Vegas and Atlantic City, there are casinos of all shapes and sizes all competing for your business. But in Norway, the entire industry is controlled by Norsk Rikstoto and Norsk Tipping.
Norsk Rikstoto is responsible for horse racing, while Norsk Tipping is responsible for sports betting, lottery games, keno, and other games.
Both these companies are owned by the state and the rules of play, service time, limits and more are all set by the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs.
2. Foreign Businesses Can’t Get Involved
The Norweigan gambling laws allow you to host your own private gambling party, provided that it’s run as a not-for-profit event. But if you want to play a game for real money, the only way this is possible is with Norsk Tipping’s offerings.
The state wants to keep all gambling-related activities under its arm with no interference from external parties. They’ve even introduced measures that prevent any foreign business from getting involved in this sector, despite the European Union condemning these actions.
For example, a law passed back in 2010 even went as far as to prevent banks from handling any gambling-related funds. Considering how banking is among the most important industries in today’s economy, it just goes to show the lengths the government will go to ensure control.
3. Slots Are “Banned” In Norway
If you thought that any of the previous points were interesting, then slots’ position will certainly tickle your tastebuds.
The best way to explain this is with a quick history lesson.
The 1995 Lottery Act allowed people to play the slots for real money, but at the time, the law didn’t anticipate the massive expansion of online gaming.
By 2004, slots were generating over NOK26 billion in revenue. In comparison, when the Lottery Act was introduced just 10 years prior, slots only generated NOK200 million in revenue.
Now, the original Lottery Act only specified that charitable organizations could offer slot machines to play. However, the law didn’t mention anything about private firms offering slots to such charitable organizations and pocketing a percentage of the profits.
When the state caught on to what was going on, lawmakers were forced to pass laws to take this control back, particularly on the slots.
Their first attempt in 2003 resulted in a legal battle with the slot companies, which ultimately failed, so it wasn’t written into Norwegian law. However, they got their way a few years later in 2007 by banning slot machines and replacing them with their own version.
Things didn’t go to plan though. The state’s version (video terminals) wasn’t as popular with Norwegians; they weren’t as user-friendly as the slots and they just weren’t as attractive.
The laws remain the same to this day, so technically speaking, slot machines are still banned in Norway. However, the laws used to shut down gambling in Norway weren’t expecting the huge expansion of online play.
Which leads to the next point…
4. Online Gambling Isn’t Covered By The Laws
Norway’s online gambling laws are strict, but they aren’t tough enough to cover online gaming. This means that people are heading to offshore online casinos like Slots of Vegas and Slots LV, which we have previously reviewed on our website, to play their favorite games without any government interference.
Since Norwegians are using offshore sites, the government recognizes the importance for new, effective laws. Further, with no land-based casinos in the country, it’s easy to see why the authorities are keen to get such laws through.
Reports suggest 80% of all those that play casino games or bet on sports in Norway play at an online casino or online sportsbook respectively.
Since Norsk Tipping is responsible for casino games, they understand the importance of keeping players onshore and are offering progressive jackpots and other games in response.
It’s not having a great impact on the player base as of yet. Citizens know they can get a much better experience from an offshore site, as well as bigger prize pools and a wider selection of games.
5. You Can Gamble Legally in Norway
While the previous points may have suggested otherwise, it’s still possible to gamble legally in Norway, either at Norsk Tipping or via a licensed offshore site if it accepts Norwegian players.
If you decide to use an offshore site, just make sure its license is valid. Check that they have Norwegian services, allow you to play in NOK and they have a good customer support network. Once you know they’re a good place to play, feel free to play your favorite games legally.
Now, while the government cannot control who signs up to an offshore site, there are certain gambling requirements all players must meet:
- Gambling winnings must be declared and pay the appropriate taxes
- Players must be at least 18 years of age to gamble. However, there is no legal age on scratchcards.
- Foreign firms are not allowed to advertise their own products or services.
- Any Norwegian gambling company with business overseas can only advertise their products and services on the radio, TV, and magazines.