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Norway is considering legislation that would allow it to begin blocking unlicensed iGaming domains

Chris Grand |
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According to the latest reports from Norway, the Norwegian government is considering legislation requiring local Internet service providers to use DNS blockage software to block unlawful gaming websites operating in the country.

The new objective was included in a consultation paper recently presented to the European Commission as part of an ongoing effort to prevent foreign iGaming enterprises without a proper license from targeting Norwegian gambling enthusiasts, according to a report from iGamingBusiness.com. According to the source, the initiative would entail a change to the country’s Gambling Act, which was presented in June 2020 and is presently working its way through the parliamentary process.

Indigenous monopoly

Norway is a country with a population of about 5.4 million people. Yet, local gamblers are supposedly barred from legally accessing services from companies not owned by the state other than state-owned lottery operator Norsk Tipping AS and parimutuel betting provider Norsk Rikstoto. All this is in sharp contrast to the situation in neighboring Sweden, where non-domestic iGaming firms have been able to seek licenses since January of this year. In Norway, there seems to be an online gambling monopoly in practice.

The regulator in charge

Based on the consultation paper provided to the European Commission, the proposed modification proposes to give the Norwegian Gaming Discretion ultimate authority over whether or not to stop an unlawful iGaming service. According to the document, this facility would also allow Norway’s watchdog to order local Internet service providers to use DNS-blocking software to prevent such websites from being accessed in Norway. For now, it’s impossible to wager on unlicensed sites in Norway.

Intensity has lately increased

Abid Raja, Norway’s Minister of Culture, Sports, and Equality, says that the current version of the Gambling Act would only require Norwegian Internet service providers to alert local users about gambling websites that are not permitted. However, the 45-year-old legislator allegedly stated that the new phrasing might potentially allow authorities to execute a blocking order if they cannot contact the offending domain’s operator and have determined that it has been operating without a license in the country.

“These companies do what they can to circumvent Norwegian law. With blocking, we will gag them, and we will go as far as possible to get rid of these companies. Basically, we do not want DNS-blocking, but we also do not want the gambling problems these companies bring to the country,” Abid Raja reportedly declared.

Additional considerations

There were other further considerations worth noting regarding the proposed Gambling Act. Raja, a member of Norway’s centrist Liberal Party, allegedly stated that the proposed Gambling Act modification would require the Norwegian Gaming Authority to do a proportionality evaluation before blocking a website. He allegedly indicated that these exercises would be essential to balance the public interest against problems like freedom of expression and information and the potential ramifications for the Internet service provider.

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