Betsson, Kindred Group Form NBO to Lobby Norway on Gambling
Several international gambling operators have formed an association, the Norwegian Industry Association for Online Gambling (NBO), to lobby the government of Norway into loosening restrictions in their gambling policy.
Four gaming groups comprise the Norwegian Industry Association for Online Gambling: Betsson, Kindred Group, GiG, and ComeOn. Rolf Sims, Kindred’s public affairs manager, will serve as the NBO’s chairman. Carl Fredrik Stenstrom, the former commercial director at Rikstoto, will be the NBO’s secretary general.
The goal of the lobbying group will be to convince Norway’s government to end its gaming monopoly and create more liberal regulatory framework that would allow licensed online gaming groups to apply for licenses.
The proposed plan is similar to the one now taking hold in Sweden, which over the past couple of years ended its state-run gaming monopoly and began licensing international gaming sites. Previously, Sweden had a long-running feud with the EU Commission over its protectionist gambling policies.
Rikstoto Exec on Responsible Gaming
Carl Fredrik Stenstrom said his experience at Norsk Rikstoto, the Norwegian parimutuel betting association, taught him of the futility of policing unlicensed international gaming. While Rikstoto operated its business, Norwegian citizens could sign up for online racebooks, sportsbooks, and sports betting exchanges that handled the same bets.
Stenstrom, who handled responsible gaming initiatives at Rikstoto, said that current laws in Denmark and Sweden show the proper way to foster a healthy gaming environment. Stenstrom said that the best plan is to bring “all the serious companies under one, responsible license model.”
Licensed Gambling Sites in Norway?
The regulatory model the NBO backs would license the publicly-traded, responsible gaming companies like Betsson and Kindred Group. After proper vetting and soft launches of their products in Norway, they would be licensed by the Norwegian government.
While illegal offshore bookmakers and racebooks would continue to exist, most Norwegian bettors would sign up at the licensed and regulated sites. The sure knowledge that certain operators have trustworthy payments, fair games, and other consumer protections would make licensed gaming websites much more attractive than unlicensed sites.
Regulated vs. Unregulated Online Gambling
Most of Europe seems to be moving towards one of two regulatory models: licensing or total bans. In Spain, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, and the Czech Republic, the governments are legalizing, regulating, licensing, and taxing gaming groups willing to follow the rules. This gives residents a chance to play in a controlled, safer environment.
Countries like Switzerland, Albania, and Romania have banned most foreign gaming operators and even passed laws to block IP addresses. This drives gaming underground, while supposedly protecting state-run monopolies in many cases.
Why Players Use Unregulated Sportsbooks and Racebooks
This provides the illusion that the government is protecting citizens, when in fact it drives gambling underground. State-run monopolies, like monopolies in most businesses, are less responsive to the needs and desires of their customers. Instead of competition, gamblers have one source for their gaming needs.
In such a setting, illegal offshore gaming operators tend to have better products. They have more betting options and sometimes better odds, because they don’t have to concern themselves with taxation. Punters tend to flock to the unlicensed offshore sites, because they are bored or dissatisfied with the one-size-fits-all approach to legal gambling.
NBO to Lobby Norwegian Officials
Thus, the Norwegian Industry Association for Online Gambling will seek to push Norway’s lawmakers in the direction of legal and licensed international gaming sites. The NBO will argue the open gaming framework will provide more tax revenues for Norway’s Treasury and better protections for the country’s gamblers.
Whether the NBO’s lobbying will have an effect is anyone’s guess, but given the country’s immediate neighbors have gone in that direction, Norway’s legislators and officials have stark examples nearby to remind them of the benefits of a liberal gambling industry.