Norway’s gambling regulator Lottstift has ordered Betsson to stop offering online poker to Norwegian players. The agency wrote a letter to the site’s parent company BLM Group Ltd, ordering the online gaming firm to leave the country or face “coercive fines”.
Apart from Betsson, four other BLM subsidiaries including Betsafe, Norgesautomaten, CasinoEuro, and Nordicbet, have also been ordered to terminate their operations in the country. They’re given three weeks to close their sites. Failure to comply with the indicated deadline will result in the imposition of coercive fines which, according to the regulator, will be set so high to enforce compliance.
Norway’s Complicated Online Gaming Law
Online poker is not entirely illegal in Norway, as long as the games are played in a Norwegian-licensed poker platform. However, the country has no specific laws regarding offshore sites.
State-owned casino Norsk Tipping currently has the exclusive right to offer online gaming in the country. The casino runs online casino games, scratch games, bingo games and odd games at the moment, but it does not currently offer online poker.
Online Poker Remains Popular in Norway  
Despite Norway’s restrictive online gambling laws, Norwegians still prefer to play online poker at internationally-based platforms as they generally offer more and better options. This, alongside ongoing claims that state-run online gambling monopolies such as that practiced in Norway go against European free-trade laws, have allowed online poker sites such as Betsson to remain active in the country.
While this has been the case for some time now, Norway’s gaming regulator has remained committed to ridding the country of unauthorized sites. But even so, online poker has remained popular in Norway, attracting an increasing number of players. The country is home to a number popular poker pros, including Thor Hansen, Johnny Lodden, Andreas Hoivold, and Annette Oberstad.
Betsson Violated Norwegian Rules
BLM Group obtained its license in Malta, and while it can legally operate in other countries, it is prohibited from offering its services to Norwegian players, Lottstift stated in its letter. According to the regulator, the country’s Lottery Act and Gambling Act also cover gambling from abroad when the services are offered directly to customers in Norway.
BLM Group, Betsson, and the other affected sites have not issued any comments yet on the shutdown order from Lottstift. Betsson is still active in Norway, as its website is still accessible through a Norwegian IP address. It could be that the operator is still giving its Norwegian players the chance to organize everything in relation to their online accounts, before the operator completely leaves the market.
The company will have to abandon the country within the deadline to avoid hefty fines that will continue to accumulate until the affected sites fully terminate their operations.
Another Blow To Betsson’s Online Poker Operations
Betsson was ordered to withdraw from Norway because it allegedly used Norwegian symbols and conducted marketing campaigns online and on TV which clearly aimed to entice local players. Lottstift also added that Betsson did things to circumvent the law with regards to processing payments within the country.
Should the company intend to file any contentions with the Norwegian Gambling Authority, it must do so on or before August 15.
Lottstift is expected to continue to go after online gaming sites operating without license in the country. The regulator will be strengthened with new powers to chase after unauthorized operators once new gambling proposals are approved. The new measures will also allow Norway to stick to its monopoly regime.
Betsson’s looming withdrawal from the Norwegian market has dealt another huge blow to the company’s online poker operations. The site was recently forced to leave Germany over the country’s implementation of a controversial new rollover tax. The excessive tax rate also prompted major brands including PokerStars, GGPoker, and partypoker to cut their services in the country.

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