Betsson will face “coercive fines” if it does not stop offering online gambling to Norwegian residents by March 25, the Norwegian Gambling Authority (NGA) has said.
The regulator has issued a cease-and-desist order against the Stockholm-listed operator’s BML Group in defence of gambling monopoly Norsk Tipping, following its order against rival firm Kindred Group less than a month ago.
“BML does not have permission from the Norwegian authorities to offer gambling, but still directs its gambling offer to Norway and offers gambling illegally in the Norwegian market,” the regulator said.
The regulator had said Kindred could be fined up to 437m Norwegian krone, about what it estimates Trannel International, the company’s subsidiary, generates in gross profit in a year in Norway.
In contrast, the regulator said it did not know how much money Betsson generates in the country, so it asked the company for an estimate of turnover and gross profit.
Betsson’s websites include Betsson.com, Betsafe.com, Nordicbet.com, Norgesautomaten.com and CasinoEuro.com.
The regulator’s order to Kindred has been upheld twice on appeal.
A Betsson spokesman said the company “maintains that its online gambling services are offered based on the licence issued by the Malta Gaming Authority in line with the freedom to provide services under the (European Union and European Economic Area) law”.
“Other operators have received similar notifications in the past from the NGA and it appears that these cases will now be tested in court,” he said.
But the NGA argues “there are no mutual recognition principles for gambling licences granted in other EEA jurisdictions”.
Court of Justice of the European Union and EFTA Court case law have given member states “a wide margin of discretion to determine their own regulations in the area of gambling”, the regulator said.
Restrictions on the right to offer gambling can be applied when justified by “legitimate considerations” and the “exclusive right model” is a legitimate consideration, the authority wrote.
The offer is “clearly” aimed at Norway, as Norwegian-language websites take Norwegian currency, offer customer support in Norwegian and have offered bets on such events as Norwegian parliamentary elections and who wins entertainment shows such as Maskorama or Skal vi danse (Shall we dance), the regulator said.