LeoVegas has become the latest member of the Norwegian Industry Association for Online Gaming (Norsk Bransjeforening for Onlinespill/NBO), the body pushing for a major overhaul of Norway’s gambling regulatory framework.
Established 18 months ago, the NBO, under the leadership of Carl Fredrik Stenstrøm, NBO now has five members, with LeoVegas joining founders Betsson Group, ComeOn, Kindred Group and Gaming Innovation Group (GiG).
“This is an important signal we have worked well in the association’s first year,” Stenstrøm (pictured), a former commercial director for the country’s horse racing monopoly Norsk Rikstoto, commented.
LeoVegas communications director Hans Uhrus said the operator had been impressed by the NBO’s ability to establish itself as “a serious association with weight in the gaming debate” in a short space of time.
“We are impressed with the work that has been done, and will now joint the association to strengthen this importance alliance,” Uhrus said.
“By standing together against the monopoly policy, we can hopefully work out a solution that can address the need for a new and modern gaming policy.”
NBO is pushing for Norway’s current monopoly, which gives Norsk Rikstoto (horse race betting) and Norsk Tipping (lottery, sports betting and casino) exclusive rights to organise gambling, to be scrapped in favour of a licensing regime open to all operators.
It says that the current framework, which has seen a number of offshore providers target Norwegian players, only results in reduced funding for sporting and cultural projects, and weaker safeguards for problem gamblers.
A study commissioned by Norwegian regulator Lotteri-og Stiftelsestilsynet (Lotteritilsynet) and carried out by the University of Bergen suggested that 55,000 people across the country suffer from gambling problems, an increase from 34,000 in a similar survey conducted in 2015. NBO said at the time that this was down to the lack of oversight of the wider market beyond Norsk Tipping and Rikstoto.
“In a modern world with access to games from all over the world, it is much better for everyone to create a Norwegian licensing system that regulates and controls all the players – not just Norsk Tipping and Rikstoto,” Stenstrøm explained.
However, Norway’s government looks set on preserving the monopoly model, submitting revised gambling legislation unifying the country’s Lottery Act, Gambling Act and Totalisator Act into a single piece set of regulations to the European Commission earlier this month.
Norsk Tipping’s head of responsible gambling Bjørn Helge Hoffmann, meanwhile, said that while the University of Bergen survey showed the country “has a gambling problem”, this was grounds to strengthen, rather than abolish, the current monopoly.