EGB Preview: Norway

30 April 2008

Norwegian gaming law is founded upon the wish to maintain a moderate and consistent gaming market, entailing little risk for unwanted negative social consequences and crime.

Gaming should also not be a source of income for the government or private business, and the revenues from the Norwegian market are channelled to culture, sport and non-governmental organizations.

In line with Norwegian gaming tradition, the largest forms of gaming are arranged and offered within a state monopoly model.

Past and Current Litigation

Norwegian gaming law has been challenged in two major cases, both before the national courts and the European Free Trade Association Court.

The slot machine case covered the dismantling of the privately-operated slots market and the establishment of an exclusive right for Norsk Tipping, the state-owned lottery operator, to operate gaming terminals.

The EFTA Court and the Norwegian Supreme Court concluded that the monopoly did not represent a breach of Norway`s obligations to the European Economic Area Treaty. The case was the first infringement case in the gambling sector under EU and EEA law.

The Ladbrokes case challenges the main principles of Norwegian gaming law, among other things, a monopoly structure for gaming, prohibition of marketing on non-licensed operators, exclusion of private profit from the gaming market and non-recognition of licenses issued in other EEA jurisdictions.

The EFTA Court has given a preliminary ruling in the case, which is now pending before the national courts.

Remote Gambling

At present, all forms of Internet-based interactive gambling are forbidden in Norway. State monopolies, however, allow for players to participate in their terrestrial gaming activities via the Internet.

Over the last year, the Norwegian Gaming Foundation pursued a more rigid enforcement of Norwegian law, especially with regard to marketing of non-licensed gaming in the country.

In November 2007, the Norwegian government sent out a proposal for public consultation regarding a prohibition against accessory involvement in remote gambling activities, in the form of payment processing, for remote gambling without a Norwegian licence.

Covered by the proposal are Norwegian credit card companies, financial institutions and other entities assisting the transfer of payments for remote gambling from gamblers in Norway. The government is presently considering sending a law proposal to the Norwegian Parliament.

Rolf F. Sims serves as counsel to the Norwegian Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs. Mr. Sims' work encompasses EU and EEA law; all aspects of legislation connected to gaming machines (including the drafting of new legislation, technical regulations, testing and type approval of machines); I-gaming; bingo; and provisions and regulations on lotteries and sports betting.