Norway is widely known for its high standard of living and winter sports. According to a local proverb, all Norwegians are born with skis on their feet, and although it may not be true literally, it does hold a certain truth. The country is one of the world’s greatest powers in winter sports – moreover, Norwegians love not only competing in sports but also betting on them.
According to a recent study, around 30% of the adult population in the Scandinavian country wagers on sports or opts for some other gambling activity as a form of recreation. If this does not sound too impressive compared to most European nations where over 50% of the people gamble on a weekly basis, we should mention that the Norwegian legislation is extremely strict and restrictive to all forms of gambling. At least on paper.
The government has established a full state monopoly on all forms of betting, casino gaming, lotteries, horse race betting, etc. No licenses have ever been issued to private operators and offshore betting companies. Still, the loose legislation allows for various web-based bookmakers to offer bets on winter sports, soccer, hockey, boxing, and many more.
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Legalities of Online Sports Betting in Norway
Historical Betting Overview
Betting on sports has always been illegal in Norway, a country where traditional, Protestant values have governed the way of living for centuries. Until the middle of the 20th century, the general attitudes toward gambling as a whole have been very negative – people believed that they had to earn their money by honest, hard work and not by gambling.
Provisions 298 and 299 of the Norwegian Penal Code of 1902 stated that games of chance could be provided only by holders of a special license. Such permissions were issued only by the government and all other betting or gambling operations were considered illegal and punished. Yet, even regulated and licensed gambling businesses were just a handful of operators. Interestingly, people who took part in any gambling activities, including in legal, regulated betting, tend to do so in private.
With the modernization of society within the next few decades, the strict ban on gambling started to loosen. The first piece of legislation that shaped the betting and gambling industry in the country was the 1927 Totalizator Act. It gave the basis for a state-run organization for horse race betting to be established. This did not happen until the 1980s, though, when Norsk Rikstoto was founded. Norsk Rikstoto or the Norwegian National Tote is responsible for all parimutuel betting on animal racing in the country.
Odds Format in Norway
Understanding the odds is an essential part of sports betting – in order to have a chance for bigger profits, punters need to know how to determine which odds are good and when the odds do not provide a good value. In essence, the odds provide the information about the amount you could potentially win with every bet. There are three main formats, in which the odds are usually displayed by bookmakers – American odds, decimal, and fractional odds.
Just like in the rest of Europe, the most popular way to display the odds of bets is the decimal format. This is probably the simplest and easiest way to calculate the potential profit of a winning bet. A winning $10 bet at odds of 1.5, for instance, would bring a net profit of $15 – exactly 1.5 times the amount of the wager. As you can see, to come up with the expected profit, we just need to multiply the stake amount by the odds.
Norwegian Betting Laws and Legislation
According to the current legislation and general understanding of the law in Norway, all forms of betting and gambling are illegal. There are, of course, certain exceptions that make this statement practically worthless. First and foremost, the Norwegian government has established a state monopoly and the only two entities that are allowed to offer betting or gambling services to the citizens of the country are Norsk Rikstoto and Norsk Tipping. Second, the current legislation does not effectively ban and pursue unregulated online operators based outside of the country.
There are several laws controlling betting and gambling in Norway and the first one was the 1927 Totalizator Act, which introduced legal betting on horse races. According to the Act, horse races and the related betting operations required special authorization by the state. Currently, Norsk Rikstoto is fully responsible for these activities.
The foundation was established in 1982 by the Norwegian Trotting Association and the Norwegian Jockey Club with the purpose to run the V6 totalizator game. Since 1993, it operates all horse race betting in the country – there are now 11 tracks for harness racing and one track for horse racing. The foundation pays 3.7% of its annual gross turnover as fees to the state.
Another important piece of legislation is the 1992 Gaming Scheme Act, which was passed in order to grant Norsk Tipping AS exclusive rights to offer various gambling services such as betting on sports, poker games, lotteries, keno, and scratch cards. The company was founded in 1948 when the State owned 40% of it, while the rest was held by the Norwegian Sports Federation and the Norwegian Football Association.
Today, it is fully owned by the Norwegian State and is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs. The types of games offered by Norsk Tipping were further detailed in the 1995 Lottery Act, which also granted licenses to charitable organizations that were allowed to operate lotteries and slot machines. However, the Lottery Act did not restrict charities to work in partnership with private companies and at some point, the slot machines became extremely popular in the country.
Since they were poorly regulated, the problem gambling rates in the country grew immensely in just a few years. This led to the banning of all slot machines in Norway in 2007, while in 2008, the government decided to make gambling and sports wagering on foreign websites illegal. In 2010, the Payment Act of Norway made it illegal for Norwegian banks and payment processors to accept transactions from offshore gaming and betting operators.
Betting Restrictions in Norway
Apparently, the legal environment in Norway is much more complex than it seems and there are tons of restrictions on sports betting in the country. While some are being enforced by authorities, others remain only on paper. For instance, there are no land-based casinos in Norway and all gambling and betting operations are carried out by state-run entities. Although it is illegal for individuals to place wagers on offshore betting sites, the rule has never been actually enforced.
The law states that bettors who bet online on an unregulated website can be fined. In theory, those who break the law can be imprisoned for a term of 3 months to 1 year. When it comes to legal betting activities, they are available to individuals who are 18 or older. There is no age limit, however, to scratch cards use and even children can buy them.
Betting is restricted only to the land-based and online products offered by Norsk Tipping. Despite authorities’ efforts to ban betting on foreign websites, the government does not prosecute bettors. The only major restriction betting fans would probably face is when they try to make a deposit or withdraw their money from an offshore betting or casino site.
Since 2010, Norwegian banks simply do not accept any payments related to illegal gambling or foreign operators. Moreover, Norwegian citizens are required to declare their winnings and any income from other countries.
Online Betting Regulatory Body in Norway
The regulatory body that oversees online betting in the country is the Norwegian Gaming and Foundation Authority (Lotteri og Stiftelsestilsynet), which is an agency within the Ministry of Culture. The Gaming Authority was established in 2001 to provide the administration, control, and regulation of state-run betting and gambling operations, as well as of private lotteries. It also processes the license application filed by associations who wish to hold lotteries with a turnover of more than NOK200,000 (approx. US$21,700).
The Authority also aims at preventing the negative impacts of the gambling and betting activities offered in the country. The Government’s gaming policy is based on social responsibility and the belief that the first priority should be safeguarding the people from the long-term dangers of compulsive gambling. The objective of the current regulation of the betting and gambling market is to limit and prevent “undesirable” gaming behavior, as stated on the website of the Norwegian Government.
Norwegian Online Betting Bonuses
Technically, it is illegal for Norwegian citizens to bet on the websites of offshore bookmakers. The reality is very different, however, and there are hundreds of betting and gambling platforms that accept Norwegian punters. Moreover, the Government does not prosecute individuals and rarely taxes the winnings generated by gambling online. There are, of course, a few exceptions – only individuals who declared huge tax winnings have been required to pay taxes and fines.
On the contrary, many betting fans in the country are currently enjoying access to a wide range of online bookmakers conveniently from their computer or mobile device. The competition between bookies is fierce and they are all trying to attract Norwegian customers – with their living standards, Norwegians simply have a lot of cash to spend on betting.
Often, this results in better bonuses and enhanced odds for those who bet from Norway. Bettors based in the Scandinavian country are treated with dramatically increased odds on specific sports events – usually soccer or skiing events that are widely popular in Norway. With these enhanced odds, the potential profit generated from a successful bet could increase considerably.
Another great incentive for those who love sports and betting on them is the free bet bonus. It may come as a sign-up offer or as a part of a regular promotion on the website. Free bets are a fixed amount of bonus cash that must be used for wagering on certain sports events, type of sport, or on the outcome of any event offered by the operator. Normally, free bets have some minimum odds requirement – for instance, we receive a free bet of $20 and will need to wager it all at odd of 1.5 or more.
Some online bookmakers also offer new members welcome bonuses of $50, $100 or even $200. Such bonuses are normally granted as a percentage of the punter’s initial deposit – it could be 100%, for instance, which means that bettors will have twice as much to wager on the website. Another important condition for all sportsbook bonuses is the wagering requirement – it usually applies to the amount of the bonus (if it is a deposit bonus) or the winnings from it. Considering we have received a $50 bonus, for example, and the wagering requirement is 5x applied to the bonus, we will need to place bets of at least $250 (5x$50) before we can withdraw our winnings.
Mobile Betting in Norway
Scandinavian countries have always been among the most technologically advanced countries in the world, especially in the past few decades. And Norway is not an exception – Norwegians love new gadgets and anything mobile-friendly. Just like in most of the world, they now do anything from their phones – browsing the net, shopping, and betting on their favorite sports and teams.
The majority of betting operators available to Norwegian punters have created wonderful mobile apps and modern HTML5 sites that could be opened on any smartphone or tablet. In fact, even the state-run Norsk Tipping started offering betting services, lotteries and casino games on mobiles. It has a wonderful native app for iOS devices where iPhone users can enjoy betting on various sports, in-play betting, as well as lotteries and casino games.
However, the vast majority of punters in the country would prefer to bet online at one of the largest and most reputable betting sites. Needless to say, all leading bookmakers welcoming Norwegians have optimized their platforms for mobile use. Their websites are usually instantly accessible from all mobile devices, including iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. Rather than downloading applications on their phones, punters simply can open the betting site in the mobile browser of their choice.
Those operators who offer native apps for download usually take their international audience into account. There are currently dozens of betting apps available in Norwegian Bokmål, the dominant form of the Norwegian language used by over 90% of the people.
Popular Betting Banking Methods in Norway
Betting operators that accept members from Norway normally offer a great range of payment options to those who want to make a deposit or withdraw their winnings. However, punters residing in the country would probably face the issue of canceled credit/cards and canceled bank transfers. The reason is the Payment Act of Norway, which was passed in 2010 and effectively forced banks and various payment processors to accept transactions from offshore gambling and betting operators.
Currently, bank transfers could be processed only to and from the website of Norsk Tipping. However, plenty of other solutions are available to punters who have decided to sign up with a foreign bookmaker. The most preferred banking method is the digital wallet, of course. E-wallets such as Paypal, Neteller, Skrill, and ecoPayz offer a fast, secure and cost-effective way to make a deposit into a betting site and they are also a convenient withdrawal method. Normally e-wallet deposits are instant and free of charge, while payouts are processed within 24 hours.
Alternative payment methods can also be used and one of them is the WebMoney system – originally Russian, this online payment service is now being used around the world and features multiple payment products, including money transfers, e-wallet, and more. The prepaid solutions by Paysafecard are even more popular among Norwegian bettors due to the enhanced security, convenience and anonymity offered by the service.
One of the best ways to fund an online betting or gambling balance and to get your winnings paid out, however, is via cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. This option is extremely time-efficient and secure, while the fees are almost non-existent. But Bitcoin is just one of the many cryptocurrencies available to Norwegian punters, especially now when an increasing number of betting sites are starting to accept these types of payments.
Norway Betting Sites FAQ
Is Online Betting on Sports Legal in Norway?
Punters in Norway can bet on sports in a completely legal and regulated manner if they bet on the official website of the state-run monopoly Norsk Tipping. Although technically illegal, betting on offshore betting platforms is practically quite popular in the country since authorities do not enforce the law.
What is the Legal Age for Betting in Norway?
Just like in most of the world, the legal age for betting a is 18 and underage gambling is illegal. However, there are no such restrictions when it comes to scratch cards and practically anyone could buy a scratch card where winning a monetary prize depends solely on chance and is, therefore, considered a form of gambling.
What Sports Can I Bet on in Norway?
The state-run bookmaker offers odds on a wide variety of sports and leagues, including soccer, tennis, basketball, hockey, football, rugby, and many more. Offshore betting operators also offer great coverage of the most popular sports in Norway and Europe as a whole, including winter sports and skiing.
Are Foreign Operators Catering to Norwegian Bettors?
Yes, many of the betting websites based and licensed in Malta or other European jurisdictions welcome Norwegian bettors. Moreover, most of them cater specifically to Scandinavian customers – they accept payments in Norwegian Krone (NOK) and offer multi-lingual online platforms and customer support.
What Types of Bonuses are Available to Bettors in Norway?
Norwegian betting fans who decide to register an account at one of the many offshore betting sites can enjoy the full range of bonuses and promotions available to everyone else. This includes free bet bonuses, deposit bonuses, enhanced odds on special sports events and big competitions, as well as many different promotions.