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Norway - online gambling regulations

Published by Niki | April 2, 2019 | Last updated: September 30, 2021

Gambling in Norway

Online gambling has become incredibly popular over the past few years and many countries have used this popularity to their advantage and to increase their revenue. Others have however tightened up their laws and regulations regarding all aspects of online gambling.

Norway is one of the countries with a no-tolerance policy. While online gambling in Norway is legal there are also some of the most strict gambling rules and legislation in place. This can often lead to confusion for players, as the act of online gambling itself is not illegal but doing so on certain sites is.

The fact of the matter is that the gambling market in Norway is rapidly growing and new players are pulled towards this attraction daily. In this guide, we break down the laws and regulations and take a look at where you can legally enjoy online gambling without the fear of being prosecuted or run into trouble with the law.

Online gambling regulations in Norway

History of online gambling in Norway

Back in the 1990’s private operators were allowed to put up slot machines almost everywhere including in hotels, gas stations, bars and even grocery stores. Slot machines are only one form of online gambling but back in the day, they brought in a profit of nearly 200 million NOK.

In 2001 the turnover increased to 9 Million NOK and was boosted to a massive 26 million NOK in 2004. To put it more simply, slot machines were responsible for 64% of the gambling turnover in Norway by 2004. One would think that the figures alone would drive the state towards developing it to its full potential.

Unfortunately, the state chose to ban all slot machines in 2008 and replaced them all with Multi-X. In order to use these machines players were expected to first create an account and wait for an access card. These machines also meant that players were completely monitored and all their gambling activities were recorded. The government saw this as a way to help players by regulating their wins and losses but also preventing any future gambling problems. All revenue from these machines was put into charity projects, much like with the regulations in Finland.

This movement and strict control caused unhappiness among players, especially because of the limited access and small pay-out amounts. Players, therefore, decided to turn towards foreign online casino sites where there were fewer restrictions and a wider variety of games to choose from.

In 2010 Norway implemented the Act of Payment as a way to prevent and block any online gambling on foreign sites. This Act prevented banks from approving any credit or debit card payments from citizens to foreign sites. Again the drive behind this act was to regain control but also prevent players from developing any gambling addictions.

The current laws and gambling monopoly of Norway

Online gambling is completely legal but players are only allowed to participate in gambling activities provided by two state-owned companies, namely Norsk Rikstoto and Norsk Tipping. Each of these companies provides different types of gambling entertainment.

Norsk Rikstoto is in charge of horse racing and was established by the Trotting Association of Norway as well as the Hockey Club. Most profits made by this independent association go back into the horse sector.

Then there is Norsk Tipping that has full control over Poker, sports betting, Lottery, scratch card games and Keno. This company is owned by the Ministry of Culture and all profits go back into the state budget or are pushed towards helpful and beneficial projects.

These two companies have exclusive rights to providing the biggest part of legal gambling activities in Norway as per the Totalisator Act and the Gaming Scene Act. As with all land-based activities these two companies are the only legal companies allowed to provide legal online casino games in Norway.

Strict limitations are set in place, which makes it incredibly difficult for private operators to apply for lottery operating licences. Commercial operators are also prevented from getting a full gaming licence from the Gaming Authorities.

In order to ensure that those strict limitations are upheld, Norway’s gambling regulator ordered banks to place blocks on any funds going to or from unauthorized online casinos.

On the 24th of April 2020, the NGA created a list of casinos they deemed “unauthorized” and fought for banks to reject funds from these providers. Despite the kickback from the casinos in question, a court ruled that banks must obey the new laws in place.

This new regulation was bolstered by the restrictions on advertising by online casinos. Casinos in Norway can no longer advertise their services on television broadcasts or online to customers within the country. It is required for internet service providers to block these ads to protect potentially at-risk players within Norway.

Lots of changes occurred for Norway and the payment methods in online casinos in 2020. Operators in the Norwegian Market removed payment options such as Skrill, Neteller, Paysafecard, and Rapid Transfer. Alternatives for players are EcoPayz and cryptocurrencies.

New changes were also made in September 2021, and now players will get a loss limit cap of NOK5,000 on high-risk games.

Are gambling winnings taxable in Norway?

The Norwegian government has very strict rules in place when it comes to online gambling as well as any other forms of gambling. The regulations are set in place as a way to ensure players are gambling responsibly and the government keeps control over the gambling activities in the country.

Because of this, all gambling earnings are taxed. This means not just gambling operators but individual players are required by law to pay tax on any winnings made via gambling.

By law, all winnings, even those obtained abroad should be declared and taxed. To ensure that you remain on the right side of the law the smartest move would be to declare your winnings and pay the required tax, even if those winnings were obtained on foreign gambling sites.

The status of online gambling at foreign online casinos

Norway has a state-run monopoly when it comes to online gambling or any other form of gambling. By law, only state-owned operators are allowed to provide gambling services in Norway. Of course, there are still a few online casino operators that have opened their doors to Norwegian players.

Some have gone as far as allowing players from this country to play in Nynorsk and Bokmal. They also allow players to make transactions with their country currency, Norwegian Kroner. These sites are accessible but they are still considered illegal by the government.

Players can still access these sites but have to accept that playing at any ‘illegal’ online casinos might get them into trouble. There are times when the government decides to follow up on players participating in online gambling at offshore sites, and they have been known to get into trouble. A silver lining is that while the government has no tolerance for illegal gambling activities they generally chase down the operators instead of the players.

The easiest way to access and play at offshore online casinos is by making use of a trustworthy eWallet or cryptocurrency. If you’re a Norwegian-based online casino player who wants to test out the waters with a wider gaming variety, we’d suggest taking a look at our list of top-rated online casinos in Norway that are open to players. These online casinos have also been vetted and reviewed and are considered safe and fair.

The casino you select remains your choice but ultimately there is a risk of getting scammed if you choose to play at a site that is suspicious. You should be aware that if this happens there will be no support or help from the government because it is still considered illegal to play at online sites not provided by state-owned companies.

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