Norway Blocks Access to Foreign Crypto Casinos
by Oskar Trotman
The rapidly growing Norwegian gambling market will face a constriction after the government decided to tighten regulations and limit access to international online casinos. The move comes after the Ministry of Culture and Equality submitted a bill on October 20th to amend the Gambling Act with the intent to increase the authority of Lotteritilsynet, the Norwegian gambling regulatory agency, and empower the agency to restrict access to offshore gambling platforms including crypto casinos.
The new law will go into effect on January 1st 2024, and will enable the Lotteritilsynet to instruct internet providers to block online casinos not licensed in Norway. Payers attempting to open illegal casino sites will be redirected to a landing page with a notification that the platform has been DNS-blocked.
“If the foreign gambling companies had followed Norwegian law, this would not have been imposed on the internet providers,“ said Lubna Jaffery, Minister of Culture and Equality.
By default, every casino site that’s not under the umbrella of Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto, two Norwegen operators functioning under a state monopoly, will be considered illegal, even operators licensed in EU countries. This move comes as a response to worries about growing crypto gambling and a rise in gambling addiction.
Recent Studies Do Not Support Worries
The most recent study conducted by the University of Bergen in 2022, surveyed 30.000 Norwegian residents, with 7,400 respondents. The data showed that 2.1% of players have reported problematic gambling behavior, while 0.4% have revealed they used cryptocurrencies to place bets. Although 7% responded they are actively using tokens for purchasing goods and other items, but have not yet gambled with crypto.
However, the research indicated that the number of players at risk has been reduced to approximately 23,000 players with problem gambling habits, compared to data from 2019, when nearly 55,000 gamblers reported issues.
The numbers might not look too high, but for a better perspective, the number of active online players is expected to rise to 301,000 gamblers by 2027. Most players prefer offshore online casinos because of the larger freedom and more gaming options including the opportunity to wager with crypto. The revenue of the local Norwegian online casino market is projected to reach $287 million in 2023 and has a growth rate of 7.07% per year.
Not a New Trend
The latest regulatory decision is in tune with previous trends. The government has been in favor of a limited access to offshore online casinos, and one measure was a ban on payment transactions with operators not licensed in Norway.
Reportedly, nine banks are monitored by the Lotteritilsynet in an attempt to curtail problem gambling in the country. Despite the obstacles, players bypass the restrictions with VPNs and peer-to-peer platforms to purchase cryptocurrencies and gamble on crypto casinos.
The European Gaming and Betting Association has criticized the monopoly system, but there is no signal of a change in course by the Norwegian government. After New Year’s Eve, players will not be able to play at offshore crypto casinos.