Placing a bet on the outcome of sports events has never been easier than it is today. Basically, the only requirement is to possess a computer, connected to the internet. There are numerous international web-based sportsbooks that welcome punters from different nationalities and Norwegians are not excluded.
As a matter of fact, sports betting enjoys a great popularity in the country, which is not surprising as Norwegians cherish a deep love for sports.
Winter sports, in particular, are especially popular, which is completely understandable as the weather conditions in the country allow for such activities to take place. Some of the most popular sports in Norway are cross country skiing, biathlon, ski jumping and ice hockey. As far as races go, the country’s citizens are particularly fond of harness racing, commonly referred to as trotting. This type of race involves horses racing at a specific gait – either a trot or a pace. The horses are harnessed to a two-wheel cart (a sulky), where the driver is seated.
In many instances, the drivers employ whips to control the horses’ gait, but in Norway their use is not permitted. The sport emerged in the country in the second half of the 19th century, when trotting race meetings were held on regular basis. Today, there are about eleven trotting race tracks in Norway. In 1986, the country even won the Elitloppet, the premier harness racing championship in Europe.
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Norway is the country of origin of two unique sports, the first one being Telemark skiing. This sport is named after the Telemark region and combines elements and techniques from Nordic and Alpine skiing. The second sport, which originated in the country is speed skating. It started in 1916 but was officially featured in the Winter Olympic games in 1924. Needless to say, some of the best speed skaters in the world are Norwegians.
As Norwegians are very enthusiastic about sports, betting is hugely popular in the country. Trotting, soccer, cross country skiing and hockey never fail to generate a market which calls for strict regulations on behalf of Norwegian authorities. In the next section, you will find information on current laws regarding sports betting in the country.
Relevant Legislative Framework
Is sports betting legal in Norway? Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to this question. It would be best to begin with a brief history of sports betting and gambling regulation in the country. Over the past century, most forms of gambling, including sports betting, have been deemed illegal in Norway. Even though punters are allowed to bet on the outcome of sports events, such activities are regulated by the state and can be conducted only on state-owned bookmakers or websites.
The Totalizator Act was introduced in 1927. Its main purpose was to legalize betting on horse racing in the country. The state-owned company Norsk Rikstoto was authorized to supervise and conduct horse races wagering throughout the country. Norsk Rikstoto literally means “Norwegian National Tote” and is responsible for all parimutuel betting on animal races in the country. Equine racing is the only form of racing allowed in Norway. This means bets can be placed on trotting and gallop races only.
The so-called Gaming Act was enforced in 1992. Another monopoly was established as Norsk Tipping was officially authorized to take over sports betting, national lotteries and all other forms of gambling. It’s important to mention, Norsk Tipping has existed since 1948, but at the time was responsible for soccer pools only as this was the only type of sports gambling in the country. When the state took over the company in 1992, the latter was granted permission to provide online poker games for Norwegian residents.
In simple words, Norwegian punters can bet legally only at Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto (for horse racing). That is, if they wish to comply with the strict laws of their country. In 2008, sports betting (and gambling in general) at international websites was officially declared illegal. Two years later, in 2010, the Payment Act of Norway was introduced. The Act instructed banks in the country not to carry out any transfers to and from foreign gambling companies.
Nevertheless, punters from Norway continue to bet at licensed bookmakers, based in other countries. Most web-based bookmakers accept customers from Norway and even process payments in their currency, the Norwegian Krone. Such activities are practically deemed illegal by Norway’s authorities, but no measures have been taken to prevent them from happening. Besides, as said above, licensed bookmakers based in other countries cannot be expected (or forced) to comply with Norwegian jurisdiction. Such attempts have proven to be unsuccessful so far.
As you can see, those who wish to stick to legal betting are left with hardly any options as Norsk Rikstoto and Norsk Tipping practically have a monopoly on the Norwegian market. The country’s Penal Code of 1902 includes two sections (298 and 299) where it is explicitly stated partaking in games of chance, offered by unlicensed providers is considered a criminal activity. The same applies to sports betting as it cannot be deemed a game of skill. Punters have no control over the final outcome of sports events.
Also, Norwegian bettors might experience some difficulties in funding their accounts and withdrawing their winnings from international bookmakers. As was mentioned already, the Payment Act of 2010 prohibited banking institutions in the country to process transactions to and from “offshore” bookmakers. It matters not whether the betting provider is land-based or web-based. Either way, there is a good chance Norwegians will fail to complete such transactions if they use credit or debit cards. Funds can be processed only to and from Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto websites.
That being said, taxation should also be taken into account. Of course, a tax is imposed on the revenues of the two state-owned companies, Norsk Rikstoto and Norsk Tipping. The state collects 3.7% of Norsk Rikstoto’s gross profits per year. In most countries the profits punters have accrued through betting are not taxed, but this is not the case in Norway. And the worst part of all is that it does not matter how much money you have won. This is the Norwegian law in theory, but in practice authorities are reported to impose taxes only on punters with massive profits. Besides, this applies predominantly to poker players. Recreational sports bettors have no reasons for concern.
Such government restrictions aim at controlling and preventing gambling addiction. One way to achieve this is to limit punters’ betting options. Whether or not such tactics are effective is a whole different matter. After the Payment Act was passed in 2010, the Norwegian Gaming Board conducted a survey to determine whether the number of punters battling with gambling addiction has decreased. It turned out the number has actually increased to 2.1%. In comparison, the same survey was conducted in 2007 and the percentage was lower – 1.35%. The country’s government has outlined a plan to block IP addresses of foreign bookmakers. The goal was to make regulations easier by restricting punters’ online access to international sportsbooks.
The legal gambling age in the country also needs to be taken into consideration. Only Norwegians over 18 years old are allowed to place bets on sports events or partake in other forms of gambling. Of course, this legal age also applies to those Norwegian punters who register and bet at international online bookmakers.
As Norsk Rikstoto and Norsk Tipping are state-owned organizations, they are regulated and must comply with the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs. The Ministry is responsible for deciding at what times of day and how much money Norwegian punters are permitted to bet.
Popular Sports to Bet on
Despite the limited number of options, sports betting remains one of the most widespread forms of recreation in Norway. Many residents of the country resort to creating accounts at foreign sportsbooks, where they are able to choose between a greater variety of markets and sports events. In addition, online bookmakers offer very competitive odds, which are frequently updated to remain accurate. Interesting and useful features like Live Score, Live Streaming and In-Play betting are also available in most cases. As many web-based bookmakers have downloadable mobile applications on offer, Norwegian punters can place bets while on the move, which further adds to the convenience and flexibility of their betting experience.
Soccer is undeniably one of the most popular sports in Europe, but enjoys a massive success in Norway, too. The country boasts some talented soccer players. Its citizens take a great deal of pride in their compatriots who managed to make it in various Premier League teams. It fact, most bets are placed on this sport as the country’s citizens enjoy backing their national team. Another popular alternative is betting on games from the Norwegian League, commonly referred to as Tippeligaen. As we’ve mentioned, many Norwegian players compete for major European leagues, such as the English Premier League. That is why, bets are commonly placed on events from the EPL. Fortunately, established bookmakers offer an extensive coverage of events from all major European leagues, so punters will not struggle to find a soccer match to bet on.
Other popular sports, covered by web-based bookmakers include tennis, basketball, ice hockey, baseball, golf, cricket, horse and greyhounds racing, boxing, American football and pool games, like snooker. Norwegian punters demonstrate a great interest in winter sports as these are widespread in their country. The good news is many sportsbooks have separate Winter Sports sections, where sports like biathlon, ski jumping, cross country skiing, Alpine skiing, hurling and speed skating can be found. Less popular options like bandy are also available.
Fans of motor sports will not be disappointed, either. Most sportsbooks provide decent coverage and accept bets on Formula 1, MotoGP (the world’s premier motorcycling championship) and Nascar races.
Norwegian punters are welcome to join foreign bookmakers, despite the restrictions imposed by the state. At this point, there are no reported cases of residents of the country being prosecuted for betting at international sportsbooks. Such bookmakers are regulated by other countries’ jurisdictions, so naturally Norwegian laws do not apply to them.
Of course, before you join any web-based sportsbook, you must make sure it is reliable, secure and licensed. One way to find out whether your bookmaker of choice is legitimate is to check whether or not its license number is displayed at the bottom of the page. Reliable sportsbooks stand out with greater transparency and are more than willing to provide such information.
As was said above, because of the 2010 Payment Act, Norwegian banking institutions are prohibited from processing transactions to and from foreign betting operators. However, such restrictions apply only to payments conducted via credit or debit cards. Thankfully, most betting providers accept a variety of safe and convenient payment methods. Punters from Norway are advised to use e-wallets (like those provided by Neteller and Skrill for example) to fund their accounts or withdraw their winnings.
Below is our list of five premier web-based bookmakers, suitable for Norwegian bettors.
When it comes to sports betting, there is one name that is impossible to miss – bet365. This sportsbook’s popularity is entirely justified – it offers a plethora of markets, great odds, extensive coverage of all major leagues and last but not least, fairness and security. The best part of all is that Norwegian punters are welcome to join in the fun and register at bet365. What is more, the bookmaker provides them with the option to select and use their own currency – the Norwegian krone.
Other useful functionalities, punters can enjoy, include In-Play betting and Live Streaming. There is always the option to place a bet while on the move as bet365 is available in a mobile format. This means the website can be loaded directly in your portable device’s browser. Then again, punters are able to download bet365’s mobile app from the website. The app works on Blackberries, Windows, Android and iOS-based devices.
Bet365’s list of sports is mind-blowing, to say the least. Some of the options include soccer, American football, golf, cricket, tennis, boxing, darts, snooker, basketball, baseball, among many others. There’s a separate Winter Sports section where Norwegian punters can choose between Alpine skiing, biathlon and their favorite – cross country skiing. Bets on all of the aforementioned sports are accepted on events in play, too.
The bookmaker is completely reliable – it holds licenses issued by the UK and Gibraltar Gambling Commissions.
BetVictor is another prominent name in the online sports betting industry. This bookmaker’s history started sixty years ago, in 1946, when Victor Chandler founded the company. More importantly, punters from different countries and nationalities are welcome at BetVictor and Norwegians are not an exception. Although they are granted access to the bookmaker’s website and can create accounts, it’s important to note credit or debit cards, issued by Norwegian banking institutions are not accepted as a method of payment. Nevertheless, punters from Norway have other payment solutions to choose from. They can fund their BetVictor accounts via e-wallets like those provided by Neteller, PayPal and Skrill.
BetVictor stands out with an amazing array of betting opportunities. Some of the sports included on the website are soccer, tennis, golf, cricket, snooker, rugby, baseball, basketball and ice hockey. Racing fans are able to choose from several options, including UK and US horse racing, greyhounds racing, motorcycling, speedway and Formula 1 races. Thanks to the Result Service (you will find it at the very bottom of the sports menu), fans can keep track of the latest statistics and scores.
In addition, punters can use to their advantage useful functionalities such as the Live Betting Scoreboard. The latter features tons of helpful information – video, scoreboards, times etc, which can be used as a guide before placing an In-Play bet.
Pinnacle is an established web-based sportsbook, which is considered especially suitable for high-rollers as its bet limits are much higher than usual. And the best part is Norway is not on Pinnacle’s list of restricted territories, which means punters from the country are welcome to join.
Betting at Pinnacle comes with a number of other advantages as well. For instance, the odds on offer have a greater value in comparison to those offered by other sportsbooks. The payouts, especially those for soccer are fast. Pinnacle is well-known for its smaller margins, too. Additionally, this is one of the few sports betting websites which accepts arbitrage bets. Other types of bets, available at Pinnacle are teasers, match-ups, parlays, outrights, handicaps and totals. Of course, Live betting is also an option.
The list of events you can bet on is quite comprehensive as it consists of about twenty sports. The most popular alternatives are soccer, American football, tennis, golf, hockey, cricket, basketball and baseball. Less popular sports like bandy and badminton also receive a sufficient coverage. Punters who demand greater flexibility can place their bets wherever they are as Pinnacle is available in a mobile format.
Paddy Power is a favorite betting destination among punters with higher expectations and greater demands. This bookmaker is based in Ireland but is licensed, and regulated by the Gambling Commission of the UK. There are many reasons why Paddy Power enjoys such a tremendous popularity among sports fans. For example, the betting provider is well-known for its Money Back specials, free bets and other generous promotional offers.
In addition, there is an outstanding variety of markets and sports events to choose from. Bets can be placed on sports like golf, hockey, basketball, American football, tennis and baseball. Fans of less conventional sports are able to bet on water polo, netball and squash. Races are covered extensively, too – horse, greyhounds and motor racing are available. You can find events from all major soccer leagues.
Interestingly, Paddy Power is very popular for its “novelty” bets. These are placed on events which have nothing to do with sports. For example, punters can attempt to predict who the next mayor of London would be. Placing a bet on this year’s probable Nobel prize winner in Literature is yet another alternative. The options at Paddy Power are practically unlimited.
There’s a good chance Norwegian punters have already heard of NordicBet. This is not surprising as the bookmaker is designed especially to cater to the needs and preferences of punters who reside in Sweden, Norway and Denmark. As the name itself suggests, this sportsbook is rooted in Scandinavia. It operates under a license, issued by the Maltese Gaming Authority.
The sportsbook covers events from all major leagues, including the Premier League, La Liga, NHL, NFL, NBA and ATP. Special attention is paid to premier Scandinavian leagues like the Norwegian Tippeligaen, the Swedish Allsvenskan and the SM-Liiga. In many cases, bets can be placed on games from lower divisions, too. Trotting, Formula 1 races and motor sports are covered exceptionally well.
NordicBet’s range of markets is quite impressive. The most popular wagers are those placed on games in play and pre-match bets.
Top events from the NBA, WTA, Ligue 1 and Serie A can be watched in real time via the Live Streaming service, that’s available free of charge. Punters can greatly benefit from features such as Live Score and Bet History. Betting while on the go is also possible since NordicBet has a downloadable application on offer.