Norway is primed to introduce DNS blocking for the websites of unlicensed gambling operators targeting customers in the country, according to a report in business magazine E24.
Several proposals to force internet service providers (ISPs) to block gambling websites have previously been submitted to Norway’s legislature in recent years, but none were approved by politicians in the country.Now, however, Culture Minister Anette Trettebergstuen has said DNS blocking will make it more difficult for unlicensed companies to operate in Norway and a proposal to enforce the new rule is set to be presented to Norway’s supreme legislature, the Storting, in the autumn.
New rules are likely to come into force from 1 January 2024, according to E24.
Responsibility for ordering the blocking of websites will sit with the Norwegian Gambling Authority, which currently oversees and operates the country’s monopoly model gambling sector. Norsk Tipping is the country’s licensed monopoly operator.
E24 said the decision to introduce DNS blocking demonstrates that sentiment has turned among Norwegian politicians on the issue of the gambling monopoly.
Previously, many favoured the introduction of a licensing system comparable to those in Sweden and Denmark, allowing privately owned companies to offer regulated gambling in the country.
Now, political support for such a system is limited, the magazine said, with only the right-wing Progress Party (FrP) in favour.
Norway’s Conservative Party is also sceptical of the proposal, with representative Turid Kristensen suggesting that DNS blocking is not an effective method of keeping unlicensed operators out of the market, as blocks can be easily circumvented.
Norway has traditionally been cautious with regards to the websites it orders to be blocked in the country, only using DNS blocking for a limited number of file-sharing sites and websites containing illegal images.
Culture Minister Trettebergstuen, however, said the new proposal is in line with the advice of the Norwegian Data Protection Authority.The Ministry of Culture opened a consultation on DNS blocking in September 2021, and has since faced significant opposition from gambling operators and customers alike.
Responding to today’s news, Kindred Group told iGaming NEXT the move would breach fundamental rights within the EEA of the freedom of trade in goods and services.
“DNS-blocking is a comprehensive and deeply invasive measure setting a disturbing precedent by restricting the freedom of speech and choice,” said a Kindred Group spokesperson.
“Kindred Group find it also of concern that the Norwegian Gaming Authority will be given the right to restrict these fundamental rights without sufficient judicial or democratic control.”
A legal dispute with Kindred Group last year saw the operator declare that it would continue to fight for its right to provide online gambling in Norway, despite its subsidiary Trannel International receiving a cease and desist order from the NGA.
Kindred said at the time that there was a lack of legal basis for the order, and that the business continues to “seek to deliver a free, open, competitive and safe gambling environment in Norway. ”
It has once again reiterated calls for a transparent licensing system for international operators.
Other companies likely to suffer with the introduction of DNS blocking in the country include Betsson and ComeOn. Betsson told iGaming NEXT it was closely monitoring the situation.
The DNS blocking proposal is likely to be met with further resistance from international operators, potentially in the form of litigation. In Germany for example, a regulator-recommended ISP blocking order on Lottoland was declared unlawful by the courts.
Norway is one of Europe’s last remaining monopoly models. Finland is another, although monopoly operator Veikkaus last year revealed it was open to the idea of licensing reform after conceding it was losing customers to the unlicensed market.