European ruling backs monopoly

The tribunal supported the Norwegian position that the gambling monopoly does not violate the European Economic Area agreement.

„The ruling is first and foremost a victory for problem gamblers and the struggle against problem gambling as a national health burden,“ Minister of Culture Trond Giske said in a press release.

„The European Union tribunal’s ruling today implies that it is possible for Norsk Tipping (state body Norwegian Gambling) to establish a monopoly on gambling machines. Making a monopoly legal doesn’t mean it is a good idea. We do not think that it will help problem gamblers much if our machines are simply replaced by those of Norsk Tipping,“ said the chairman of the Norwegian Lottery and Slot Machine Association (NOAF), Ottar Dalset, in a press release.

Lotteries and certain types of slot machines are often used to raise money for small organizations and charities in Norway.

Culture Minister Valgerd Svarstad Haugland of the previous Bondevik 2 government proposed state control of the slot machine industry to fight problem gambling. The law was approved in 2003 but did not go into effect because EFTA watchdog ESA (EFTA Surveillance Authority) called it a breach of EEA regulations regarding open competition.

The industry took the issue to court and won, but lost in the appeals court. They will now take the matter to the Supreme Court, but this stage was on hold until the EFTA ruling.