A leading Norwegian betting industry group has criticised the decision of the Norwegian government to close a loophole that allowed offshore firms to advertise to Norwegian clients.

The trade organisation Norsk Bransjeforening for Onlinespill (NBO) said that the measure was not surprising, but that it was disappointing, and he called for the government to move to more of a liberal position on regulation, rather than the current monopoly model that exists in Norway.

Late last month, it was announced that the Norwegian government would be bringing forward amendments to the existing Broadcasting Act. The changes would make it possible for the Norwegian Media Authority to prevent Norwegian television and internet companies to block all advertising by offshore gambling operators.

Presently, the Act only covers television stations in Norway, and for many years unlicensed firms have used this loophole to promote gambling products despite the fact that state-owned operators Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto are the only licensed gambling operators in Norway.

The General Secretary of NBO, Carl Fredrik Stenstrom pointed out that only Finland and Norway operated monopoly models:

“According to Lotteri-og stiftelsestilsynet, there are 250,000 Norwegians using my members’ services outside Norway. We know there are more – but let’s say 250,000. It would be much better to give these players good tools to be able to regulate their gambling through a self-exclusion system.”

But others in Norway disagree. A report produced by Oslo Economics for both the Norwegian Sports Federation and the addiction treatment group ExtraStiftelsen Health and Rehabilitation warned of the risks of opening up the market to private firms. The report, which came out in August last year, said that such a liberalisation could lead to players moving from low risk products such as lottery tickets to higher risk online casino games. It also found that there was a potential for a fall in the amount of revenue diverted to good causes.

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