Norway inconsistent on gambling

The Sovereign Wealth Fund wagers money on betting while unlicensed gambling is frowned upon at home

Photo: History Channel / Wikimedia Commons Unlicensed gambling at home is discouraged in Norway.

Photo: History Channel / Wikimedia Commons
Unlicensed gambling at home is discouraged in Norway.

Michael Sandelson
The Foreigner

A dependency organization is critical of Norway’s selectivity on gambling.

Norway’s SWF has over NOK 3.48 billion (some USD 473 million) invested in real and virtual casinos, Vårt Land reports.

Actis’s (Norwegian Policy Network on Alcohol and Drugs) random examination of the SWF’s investment portfolio shows that most of this betting-related money is invested in the Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd—NOK 983.55 million (about USD 133.54 million). Galaxy runs casinos in Macau, amongst other activities. Norway and Macau have had a tax agreement in place since 2011.

At the same time, advertising gambling, alcohol, and tobacco products is illegal on Norway-based TV. Only Norsk Tipping is allowed to advertise because it is state-run and part of Norway’s monopoly on gambling.

“They also have many safety measures in place for players, such as limits as to how much and how long you can play for,” Actis leader Mina Gerhardsen tells The Foreigner.

But several channels that transmit from abroad, which are available in Norway, run advertisements for gambling companies.

Norway’s SWF also invests in these firms via Betsson, the parent company that owns subsidiaries Norgesautomaten, Nordicbet, Betsafe, and Norskelodd.

This reveals a disparity, according to Gerhardsen, as two different Ministries are attempting to achieve two different objectives.

The Ministry of Finance has given the Fund the green light to invest NOK 290 million (about USD 39.2 million) in companies responsible for a fourth of foreign-transmitted unlicensed gambling advertising. The Ministry of Culture is trying to ban these types of ads from TV in Norway.

“This [allowing investment] undermines our efforts to reduce the problems associated with gambling,” Gerhardsen, a former Labor (Ap) politician says to Vårt Land.

The Rightist government has also legalized Poker tournaments and private Poker teams, albeit with a betting limit, and wants to establish five new lotteries.

“Poker is the also the most dangerous when it comes to gambling addiction,” Gerhardsen comments to The Foreigner.

“There’s broad political consensus when it comes to reducing this, but it creates a problem when the government wants to allow NGOs working with international issues to apply for licenses to run these proposed new lotteries.”

This article was originally published on The Foreigner. To subscribe to The Foreigner, visit theforeigner.no.

It also appeared in the May 15, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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