Norwegian gambling regulator gains DNS-blocking powers

Lottstift says it will monitor companies that continue to target Norwegian players.
Lottstift says it will monitor companies that continue to target Norwegian players.

Lottstift will launch a major DNS-blocking campaign against unlicensed online gambling operators next year.

Norway.- The national gambling regulator Lottstift has announced that it has been granted powers to block domain name servers of online casino operators that attempt to circumvent Norway’s strict gambling monopoly. It says it will begin a major DNS Blocking campaign against unlicensed operators in 2024.

The regulator’s director, Henrik Nordal, said the government had approved Lottstift’s request for the right to order internet service providers to immediately close access to gambling sites that it flags as operating illegally.

He said that unlicensed gambling operators that continue to promote gambling to Norwegian consumers will be put under supervision ahead of the campaign. It also plans to use the time leading up to the campaign to take legal action against unlicensed operators, possibly imposing fines on those that do not stop targeting Norwegian players as it has already done in the past.

He warned that “DNS blocking of websites that offer illegal gambling in Norway will probably take place” from January 2024. “This means that the internet provider stops you if you try to access such a website,” he clarified. “We are getting more and more tools, and collectively we see that this has a good effect. We have advocated introducing DNS blocking as soon as possible because it is a good measure.”

He added: “For companies planning to exit the Norwegian market and demonstrating genuine commitment through implemented measures, we will focus on providing guidance instead of resorting to punitive actions and DNS blocking.”

The Norwegian gambling regulator has long sought the powers to block unlicensed offshore gambling operators to channel gambling to the state-controlled market. It says such action is required because 55,000 Norwegians suffer from problem gambling, with a further 122,000 at risk of developing a problem, according to a 2019 welfare survey.

Lottstift will also launch a public awareness campaign that aims to clarify which operators are allowed to offer gambling in the country (only Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto).

Kindred’s Trannel Unibet continues to argue that Norway’s stance runs against European law, but late last year it agreed to withdraw its Norwegian language services. That led Lottstift to pause its fines against the company.

Tender for gambling helpline

Last month, Lottstift announced plans to run a tender to find a new operator for Norway’s 24-hour problem gambling helpline Hjelpelinjen. The service is currently managed by Sykehuset Innlandet, the health trust for the provinces of Hedmark and Oppland, but it will halt its management at the end of the year.

Bjørn Leirdal, Lottstift’s acting director of communications and strategy, said the regulator was disappointed by Sykehuset Innlandet’s decision to stop managing the service but promised that the helpline service would not be interrupted.

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