Secretary-General of the European Gaming and Betting Association, Maarten Haijer, recently published a systematic review of the facts and fallacies surrounding Norway’s gambling Monopoly.
In his review, he calls the Norwegian government’s claims that their monopoly is the only way to protect the people from abuse akin to the legend of Loki’s Wager, which is defined as “the unreasonable insistence that a concept cannot be defined, and therefore cannot be discussed”.
The Facts Are Indisputable
In the folk tale, Loki avoids losing his head in a wager by arguing that there is no way for the dwarves to claim their prize without touching his neck, which was not part of the bargain. In the same way, Norway has argued in defence of their monopoly with vague references to shadowy threats and unclear definitions or provable numbers.
Here are some of the cold hard facts that prove Norway, and its people will be better served by the fall of the monopoly:
✓The Monopoly Protects Our People
Given the growing trend towards multi-licencing across Europe, it is now abundantly clear that players are protected through clear and intelligent consumer-driven regulations. All the monopoly has done is encourage local gamblers to seek entertainment beyond their borders where they are attracted by price and features, without the security of local regulation to protect their interests.
✓Internet Access Trumps the Monopoly
With access to high-speed internet Norwegians have the freedom to pursue online gambling wherever they choose. With a limited local offering, this has led to more than 66% of the country’s online gambling taking place at unregulated offshore casino and betting sites.
When one considers that licenced casinos pay an average tax of 15% of gross gaming revenue and increased attention on the local casino offering Norway’s losses are calculated at approximately 2 billion NOK (€201 million) annually.
This excludes the natural boost to the local economy brought about by increased spending on above the line media like television and print ads, plus the jobs created by local offices and data centres.
Consider the amazing results seen in Denmark where the introduction of multi-licensing saw the country boost its gambling-driven revenues from DKK 750 million (€100 million) to DKK 2.1 billion (€282 million) while at the same time reducing the potential for gambling-related harm.
✓Norwegian Gamblers Are Better Protected
In very real terms having nearly 70% of Norwegians gamble at unregulated online casinos immediately puts them at risk of playing at unscrupulous sites. A 202 report by the University of Bergen pegged the country’s problem gambling rate at 1.4% of the population.
While 1.4% might not seem remarkably high it is important to note that this study was based on a small sample size given that offshore sites are not willing to share their data. It is also up to four times higher than other regulated European regions such as Spain where problem gambling rates are a mere 0.3% of the population.
The combination of well-structured regulation and strong channelisation is proven to be the best way to protect gamblers worldwide. The process worked wonders for both Sweden and Denmark who since introducing their licencing systems have reduced the amount of gambling that takes place at unregulated sites from 56% to 9% and 28% to 8% respectively.
This immediately places a large percentage of at-risk gamblers under the care of a locally regulated industry that is geared to protect them emotionally and financially.
Your Move Norway
As the European gambling industry continues to mature and data on player protection, revenue generation and other key metrics become more widely known the Norwegian authority is going to have to answer for its resistance to change.
The regions adherence to its monopoly is indefensible, from a financial and community perspective, the only logical conclusion is that there is a small group within the government who are personally profiting from the monopoly.
However, this cannot be allowed to continue, for the sake of the local gambling community and given the proven financial boon that a licenced gambling system would be to the country as a whole.