TV advertisement spends cut by Norwegian offshore operators

Lotteri-og stiftelsestilsynet (Lottstift)Norway’s gambling regulator has now revealed a 19 per cent year-on-year decline in spending on advertisements by offshore operators over the past year, with plans in motion to stamp this out entirely.

After citing research from the country’s media watchdog Medietilsynet, after basing it on a report from Nielsen Media Research, advertising spend by unlicensed operators over the 12 months to 30 July 2019 came to a total of NOK631.0m (£44.5m/€49.8m/$54.8m).

While licensed operators, such as Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto increased year-on-year, a 6 per cent rise only took its total investment in advertising for the year to NOK248m. This, Lottstift noted, was largely due to the Postcode Lottery growing its presence in the market.

However, across the licensed and unlicensed markets, total advertising spend was down 13 per cent year-on-year.

Lottstift has noted that the increase in spending by licensees largely benefitted foreign TV stations broadcasting into Norway, such as the BBC, Comedy Central and Fox, with the UK’s national broadcaster the main beneficiary. Total Spend across these sites was up 33 per cent from the previous year, compared to an 0.5 per cent increase in ad spend across domestic channels.

Over the 12 month period, the gambling industry has accounted for 14 per cent of advertisement revenue which has been generated by foreign broadcasters in the country, with the sector’s contribution to Norwegian stations just 2.6 per cent. In general, it has noted, there had been a decline in domestic TV advertising revenue, which declined 2.1 per cent year-on-year.

Reflecting on the findings, Lottstift director, Gunn Merete Paulsen has said that the decline in unregulated gambling advertisement spend has suggested efforts to force offshore operators from the market are succeeding.

She said: “Norwegian government authorities have been clear that this kind of advertising is not allowed. At the same time, some of the illegal advertising spend may have shifted to other platforms, and we are following this closely.

“For licensed companies, it is imperative to advertise, to channel customers to the legal market, and Lottstift has good control over this marketing,” Paulsen continued. “This is strictly regulated and focuses on promoting products with a low risk of gambling addiction. Illegal advertisements are promoting entirely different games.”

The Norwegian Government has also been considering increasing efforts to prevent unlicensed operators from advertising in the market since 2017. Currently, these companies have exploited a loophole which allows them to advertise through channels that broadcast into Norway from foreign locations, although efforts to remove this loophole have been led by Lottstift. The regulator has launched a consultation on the issue in April last year.

Norsk Tipping has come to already back the move, where its bee said that it would help better protect Norwegian gamblers from suffering harms as a result of their playing.

However, a Government-backed report said that such a move could lead to an NOK500m annual decline in broadcasters’ revenue. Despite this, Minister for Culture and Gender Equality Trine Skei Grande remains committed to pushing through a ban.

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