Norway moves to finally end TV advertising loophole

28 February 2020

Norway’s government has proposed legislative changes designed to prohibit overseas gambling operators from advertising on television in the country.

The government is to table amendments to the Broadcasting Act and allow the Norwegian Media Authority to order Norwegian TV distributors and internet providers to prevent access to illegal marketing.

Abid Q. Raja, Minister of Culture and Gender Equality, said the changes are being considered as the ban on marketing illegal gambling has been difficult to enforce because the TV stations broadcasting into Norway operate outside of the country's jursidiction.

The Norwegian Government has long been preparing to up efforts to prevent unlicensed operators from advertising in the market, with discussions underway since 2017. Currently these companies exploit a loophole that allows them to advertise via channels that broadcast into Norway from foreign locations.

Lotteri-og stiftelsestilsynet (Lottstift), the gambling regulatory authority, launched a consultation on the issue in April 2018.

“For the government, this is a value choice where the interests of people with gambling problems and their relatives must take precedence over financial considerations,” said Raja.

Currently Norway only has two state-owned bodies permitted to offer and advertise gambling products in the market. Norsk Tipping can offer draw-based and casino games, while Norsk Rikstoto offers totalisator games. Together these bodies raise money for socially beneficial purposes, including humanitarian work, sports, healthcare, research and cultural initiatives, generating NOK5.5bn in 2018.

Last October the regulator reported a 19% year-on-year decline in advertising spending by offshore operators over the previous year. Citing research from the country's media watchdog Medietilsynet, based on a report from Nielsen Media Research, advertising spend by unlicensed operators over the 12 months to 30 July 2019 amounted to NOK631.0m (£44.5m/€49.8m/$54.8m).

According to a report published in August last year claimed that broadcasters could see advertising revenue slashed by as much as NOK500m per year should the TV advertising ban come into force.

Norway introduced a ban on payments to unlicensed operators from 1 January 2020.