Severe online restrictions see change at Norwegian regulator

Norwegian gambling regulator Lotteri- og Stiftelsestilsynet has reappointed Gunn Merete Paulsen as its Director General, as pressure increases on the government to further restrict remote online gambling services.

Paulsen retakes leadership of the regulator, replacing former incumbent Atle Hamar who has been repositioned as Norway’s Environment Secretary. A former PWC executive, Paulsen had served as Deputy Director General of Lotteri- og stiftelsestilsynet from 2011-2015.

At present, Norwegian gambling policy is facing an extensive shake-up demanded by a coalition of political parties which has secured a mandate to implement severe restrictions on foreign online gambling services targeting national consumers.

Last April, the joint online gambling mandate developed by the coalition of Norway’s Labour, Christian Peoples, Socialist Left and Centrist Parties’ was approved by Storting (Norway’s legislative assembly).

Critical of the government’s stance on unlicensed remote gambling operators being able to service Norwegian consumers, the coalition has put forward severe restrictions on banking transactions, advertising services, stiffer penalties and IP blocks.

The supporting parties have detailed that the provisions aim to tighten Norway’s gambling framework, whilst further supporting state-owned gambling operator Norsk Tipping’s charitable contributions.

Furthermore, management of Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund has been criticised for investing in foreign online gambling operators, a move deemed to have undermined Norsk Tipping’s position as a state-owned charitable enterprise.

This Tuesday Norway’s parliament referred its pending industry changes to the European Commission, seeking approval to implement the restrictions on European licensed operators.

As a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), Norway will have to adhere to European Union legislation on digital services.

However, in December 2017 the European Union announced that it would no longer allow its legal courts to adjudicate online gambling disputes within member states.

Following the EC’s pending review, Norwegian policy stakeholders believe that the new restrictions will be implemented by January 2019.

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