Lottstift, the Norwegian gambling regulator, has announced plans to actively monitor and take action against companies that unlawfully target Norwegian players. As part of its efforts, Lottstift will be launching a robust DNS-blocking campaign in the coming year to target unlicensed online gambling operators.
The Norwegian gambling regulator, Lottstift, has recently been bestowed with new powers that enable it to block the domain name servers (DNS) of online casino operators who seek to bypass Norway’s stringent gambling monopoly. In an effort to combat unlicensed operators, Lottstift has announced its intention to launch a significant DNS-blocking campaign in 2024 to restrict access to unauthorized gambling websites.
According to Henrik Nordal, the director of Lottstift, the Norwegian government has approved the regulator’s request for authority to instruct internet service providers to promptly block access to gambling websites that are identified as operating unlawfully. This new power will enable Lottstift to take swift action against online gambling sites that do not comply with Norway’s gambling regulations and are deemed to be operating illegally.
Henrik Nordal further explained that unlicensed gambling operators who persist in promoting their services to Norwegian consumers will be closely monitored by Lottstift in the lead-up to the DNS-blocking campaign. Lottstift also intends to take legal action against these operators, including the possibility of imposing fines, as it has done in the past. The regulator aims to use this time to proactively enforce compliance with Norwegian gambling laws and deter unlicensed operators from targeting Norwegian players, ensuring a fair and regulated gambling environment in the country.
“DNS blocking of websites that offer illegal gambling in Norway will probably take place” from January 2024. “This means that the internet provider stops you if you try to access such a website,” he clarified. “We are getting more and more tools, and collectively we see that this has a good effect. We have advocated introducing DNS blocking as soon as possible because it is a good measure.”
“For companies planning to exit the Norwegian market and demonstrating genuine commitment through implemented measures, we will focus on providing guidance instead of resorting to punitive actions and DNS blocking.”
For years, the Norwegian gambling regulator has been advocating for the authority to block unlicensed offshore gambling operators in order to regulate and channel gambling towards the state-controlled market. The need for such action is underscored by alarming statistics from a 2019 welfare survey, which revealed that 55,000 Norwegians are struggling with problem gambling, while an additional 122,000 individuals are at risk of developing gambling-related issues. In light of these concerns, the gambling regulator emphasizes the importance of taking measures to address the negative impact of unlicensed gambling and protect the well-being of Norwegian consumers.
In addition to its DNS-blocking campaign, Lottstift will also initiate a public awareness campaign to provide clarity on which operators are legally permitted to offer gambling services in Norway, namely Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto, the state-controlled entities. This campaign aims to educate the public and promote responsible gambling within the country.
However, there has been ongoing disagreement from operators like Kindred’s Trannel Unibet, who argue that Norway’s stance goes against European law. Nevertheless, in late 2022, Trannel Unibet agreed to withdraw its Norwegian language services, leading Lottstift to temporarily pause its fines against the company as part of its enforcement efforts. The regulatory landscape regarding online gambling in Norway remains complex and subject to ongoing legal interpretations and actions by both the regulator and operators.