EGBA urges Norwegian rethink amid rising problem gambling rate

The European Gaming and Betting Association has voiced worry after research by the University of Bergen found that Norway’s problem gambling rate is increasing.

Commissioned by Norway’s Gaming and Foundation Authority, the country’s gambling regulator, and surveying 9,000 citizens aged between 16-74, the country’s problem gambling rate was found to have increased 62 per cent since 2015 with 55,000 people currently affected and 122,000 more at risk.

The EGBA asserts that the findings bring into question Noway’s exclusive state-owned gambling monopoly, one of the last in Europe, which has been “long justified on the basis that problem gambling can be better managed by the state rather than private companies”.

Urging a “fundamental” rethink on how the country regulates online gambling, the restriction of consumer choice is pinpointed by the trade association as undermining the overall effectiveness of the nation’s online gambling regulations.

Furthermore, the EGBA also stresses that the situation also deprives the state of valuable tax revenues and leads to Norwegian gamblers playing on foreign websites where they are not protected by the country’s laws.

“These research findings are worrying and prove Norway’s gambling monopoly is not protecting its citizens,” Maarten Haijer, secretary general of the EGBA, explained.

“Gamblers tend to shop around for the best betting odds or bonuses and, if they are faced with restricted choices, they will simply look elsewhere to find them. That’s why the vast majority of European countries have rejected monopolies in favour of licensing-based online regulation and it’s only a matter of time before Norway will have to do the same. Providing the consumer with choice leads to better channelling, better tax revenues for the state and better consumer protection.”