Norway: 63% of youngsters exposed to social media gambling ads

By Robert Fletcher

Norwegian regulator Lotteritilsynet has flagged concerns about the amount of children and young people being exposed to gambling adverts on social media.

The call came in response to the Norwegian Media Authority’s (Medietilsynet) 2022 report on children and the media. The study found that 63% of children and young people aged 13-18 had seen adverts for gambling.

Some 64% of children aged between 13 and 14 had seen ads, as well as 64% of 15-16-year-olds. In addition, 61% of those aged 17-18 reported being exposed to gambling adverts on social media.

While this was lower than 71% in the last report in 2020, Medietilsynet and Lotteritilsynet were concerned with the findings.

The ads included traditional marketing from licensed and offshore operators as well as promotional content from influencers. The study featured the responses from over 3,000 children and young adults across Norway.

“We want to crack down hard on the use of influencers to lure children and young people into illegal gambling,” Medietilsynet senior legal advisor Monica Alisøy Kjelsnes said.

“This marketing can lead children and young people into these gambling games. The gaming ambassadors help to normalise the most dangerous games. Influencers have great influence, and children and young people are particularly vulnerable to this influence.

“We want people to tip us off if they see illegal advertising. Is also possible to report directly to the company.”

Stepping up regulatory efforts

Lotteritilsynet was recently handed additional tools to address marketing on social media. The Gaming Scheme Act entered into force in January, unifying all existing gambling acts in the country.

The Act prohibits non-licensed operators from marketing their gambling services in Norway. Lotteritilsynet has the power to issue administrative orders against these brands to force them to halt any unauthorised campaigns.

Last autumn, Lotteritilsynet issued a warning to influencers and gambling ambassadors that they could face fines by promoting illegal operators.

“We have already had an influence campaign in 2023, and we saw that many influencers have stopped marketing the illegal gambling,” Lotteritilsynet. “But that does not mean that the industry has recovered, and we will have more such actions in the future.”

Lotteritilsynet’s efforts to tackle the promotion of illegal gambling has seen it partner with leading social media and tech brands. The regulator is already working with Google, Facebook, Instagram and Apple, and has pledged to expand these efforts.

Clamping down on unlicensed operators

Addressing marketing and promotional activity is just one part of the battle Lotteritilsynet faces.

In January, Lotteritilsynet reported an increase in the number of banks contacting customers over transactions with unlicensed operators.

A Sentio study found eight out of 10 banks in Norway have routines in place to contact customers when transactions are made to and from illegal operators. This, Lotteritilsynet said, was an increase from six out 10 banks that had such systems in place when the last study took place in 2020.

Almost seven out of 10 banks inform customers about the consequences they may face by interacting with unlicensed sites. However, only one in four offered general information about problem gambling.

In April, it was revealed that the country’s government was seemingly in favour of granting the regulator new powers to DNS block unlicensed sites.

At the time, Lotteritilsynet director Henrik Norda said the government had showed signs it would support the move. He added that it would make the riskiest games less available and thus better protect Norwegian players.

If approved, this would mark the end of a process that began two years ago, when Norway first put DNS blocking unlicensed sites to consultation.

The new powers have speculated implementation date of January 2024, though this they are yet to be finalised.

Meanwhile, efforts to address gambling harm appear to be working in Norway. According to a report by Spillforsk at the University of Bergen, the number of Norwegians who suffer from problem gambling more than halved since 2019.

The research showed approximately 23,000 consumers suffer from problem gambling and 93,000 are at risk of developing gambling harms.

This meant the total number of problem gamblers more than halved since the last survey in 2019. On that occasion, the survey counted 55,000 problem gamblers and 122,000 who were at risk.

Nordal said the survey data proved that the organisation’s approach was a success.

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