Norway allows online-only bingo to ease Covid-19 impact

18 March 2020

Norway’s gaming authority will allow bingo halls to operate in an online-only capacity, suspending regulations that require a physical draw to take place, as part of measures to mitigate the impact of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) on the sector.

Norwegian gambling regulations state that consumers can play bingo online, but must be linked to games occurring in a land-based bingo hall. 

However, Lotteri-og stiftelsestilsynet (Lottstift) said it had been contacted by a number of bingo hall operators asking for exemptions from this rule.

This follows the shut-down of all cultural, sporting and voluntary activies in Norway, including bingo halls, on 12 March, in order to slow the spread of the virus.

Bingo operators may now offer games entirely online. However, games may still only be offered from 10AM to 10PM and with each licensee only able to offer one game at a time. In addition, new players no longer need to register for accounts in person and can now do this online.

The rules will be in place until 29 March, but the Lotteritilsynet will continue to review the situation and may keep them in place longer.

In addition, the Norwegian government has established a compensation scheme to help businesses, teams, associations and individuals running cultural, sporting or voluntary events mitigate the impact of the shut-down. Worth approximately NOK300m (£23.7m/$25.6m$28.0m), it will provide grants to entities that have lost revenue from ticket sales and participation fees on events that were due to take place between 5 March and 5 April. 

This will be overseen by the country's Minister of Culture and Gender Equality Abid Q. Raja, and managed by Lottstift and Norway's Cultural Council.