Norsk Tipping Sees Revenues Rise Ahead
Norsk Tipping said it expects the roll-out of video-lottery terminals across Norway to generate further growth over 2009 after annual figures showed the monopoly gaming operator hit record revenues for last year.
By James Kilsby – GamblingCompliance Ltd.
Norsk Tipping said it saw record annual turnover from its state-controlled lottery and gaming products last year as annual sales for 2008 hit NOK10.6bn (€1.22bn), up a modest 1.8 percent from NOK10.4bn (€1.2bn) the year previously. The figures meant nearly NOK3.66bn (€433m) would be paid out to Norwegian sports, cultural and charitable organisations this year, Norsk Tipping said.
The gaming operator attributed the modest increase to the introduction of online Keno games in November 2007, but suggested that further new products could be introduced in the near future. “We are still seeing that there is a reduction in participation in the traditional numbers games,” said Norsk Tipping chief executive Torbjorn Almlid. “If we are to fulfill our mission of convincing players to choose safe and responsible games, we need to renew ourselves and become more attractive. This is where the company will focus its efforts in the time ahead,” he added.
A spokesman for the company told GamblingCompliance that further growth could be expected this year due to the roll-out of new video-lottery terminals (VLTs) across the country in January of 2009.
The Norwegian government elected to bring all gaming machines in Norway under Norsk Tipping’s control back in 2003. Following a protracted legal battle fought between the government and incumbent private operators in the machine sector through Norwegian and European courts, Norsk Tipping was last year successfully able to complete a pilot scheme for its VLT operation. The limited number of machines in operation in 2008 saw turnover of just NOK12m (€1.4m), the spokesman said, but the company now expects to install up to 4,000 VLTs throughout Norway by the end of this year.
The Norwegian government justified the slot machine monopoly on the grounds of tackling gambling addiction in the country. Personal smartcards are required to use the new Norsk Tipping VLTs, which are also subject to government-set time and stake limits.
“We performed tests during the pilot period and were quite satisfied,” the spokesman said. “The limits that have been set for the machines work quite well and only a very small percentage of players chose to set their own limits below that, which we determine to mean that those default limits set by ourselves and the government are appropriate.”
He added: “Traditional games like Lotto are falling a bit, so we want to focus on new technologies such as these video gaming machines and also the internet.” The spokesman said that Norsk Tipping’s revenue performance could also be lifted this year by the implementation of a payments ban for foreign internet gambling websites, draft regulations for which were published for consultation by the Norwegian government earlier this month.
All of Norsk Tipping’s lottery games, including Keno, are playable by mobile phone and the internet at present, but would not be subject to the payments restrictions, the spokesman explained. “As we’re government-owned we could benefit from [the payments ban], but it is also up to us to make sure our games are attractive. If not, we would not be doing our job.”