The Norwegian Gambling Authority (NGA) has been petitioned by the Norwegian Policy Network on Alcohol and Drugs (Actis) to investigate and fine companies for allowing illegal gambling advertising on social media.
Actis, which is an umbrella group for more than 30 non-government organisations (NGOs), made the demand to local media outlet Verdens Gang (VG) after numerous Norwegian influencers were allegedly using their social media accounts to promote gambling.
Inger Lise Hansen, secretary general of Actis, said “foreign gambling companies have little to pat themselves on the back for. They have now stopped TV advertising, but they have just shifted their budget to social media instead.”
Hansen fears that social media posts will have an adverse effect on people affected by disordered gambling and she questioned the legality of the influencer’s posts.
NGA director Atle Hamar told VIXIO GamblingCompliance that action will be taken against influencers and other famous people who advertise “illegal gambling” when the new gambling law comes into force on January 1, 2023.
"The new Act gives the Norwegian Gambling Authority the option to issue infringement fees for illegally advertising gambling. The influencers risk a fine of several hundred thousand kroner for breaking the law," Hamar said.
However, Carl Fredrik Stenstrøm, secretary general of the online trade group NBO, said Hansen missed “the ball and the goal”, arguing “the most aggressive advertising in the market today is financed by the state”.
Stenstrøm said “Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto spent €124m on advertising this spring alone”.
Despite admitting that Norsk Tipping and Rikstoto “are not perfect”, Hansen distanced the state-owned operators from foreign ones, as she says they “do not offer free betting money to get started or call you up and entice you with large bonuses”.
NBO members include Betsson, Kindred, ComeOn, LeoVegas and Coolbet.
Currently, in Norway, state-owned Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto hold exclusive rights to offer gambling in the country.
However, several operators with licences in other European jurisdictions have challenged Norway’s exclusive rights model by allowing Norwegians to gamble on their websites, arguing that the monopoly model is contrary to the EEA Agreement on freedom of service.
Since January 1, 2021, the Norwegian Media Authority (NMA) has been granted the power to protect exclusive rights holders and consumers by banning adverts from foreign gambling companies intended for Norwegian TV viewers.
The NMA used this power in April 2022 to order television distributors in the country to remove gambling advertising from Discovery channels such as Eurosport Norway.
The ability to ban foreign gambling TV adverts is coupled with long-standing payment blocking measures.
Under threat of enforcement, Kindred struck a deal with the NGA that means fines of NOK1.2m (€118,000) daily, with a cap of NOK437m, were put on hold, in return for the operator meeting a series of conditions, including removing any “Norwegian online gambling sites”.
However, the operator has said it intends to challenge the enforcement in court and will continue to “passively” accept Norwegian gamblers who find its dot.com website.
Betsson faces similar enforcement threats over its acceptance of players from Norway.