Norway to Protect iGaming Monopoly Through Mandatory DNS Blocking

Posted on: October 23, 2023, 08:10h. 

Last updated on: October 23, 2023, 11:29h.

Norway hasn’t given up on gaming monopolies. Instead, it is moving further towards isolation by announcing new legislation. Under this legislation, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) would be mandated to block all iGambling websites using Domain Name System (DNS) blocking.

The Norwegian flag flying in front of the Oslo Opera House
The Norwegian flag flying in front of the Oslo Opera House. The country is doubling down on its gaming monopoly. (Image: Dreamstime)

Under the proposed legislation, ISPs would be required to implement technical measures preventing users from reaching specific websites through global DNS protocols. This legal amendment comes after a period of more than two years since the Norwegian authorities initiated discussions on the possibility of DNS blocking for unlicensed websites.

The proposed legislation specifies that if a user attempts to access a restricted website, he or she will be redirected. A designated landing page will appear to provide information on why access wasn’t granted.

The modification is part of reforms to Norway’s Gambling Act and was proposed as a suggestion by the Ministry of Culture and Equality on October 20. The cabinet swiftly approved it that same day.

Minister of Culture and Equality of Norway Lubna Jaffery blamed the need for DNS blocking on gaming operators. She said that if they had abided by Norwegian law, it wouldn’t be necessary to bring ISPs into the equation.

Norway Doubles Down on Gambling Monopoly

That may have been a slight dig at Kindred and, perhaps, a few other operators still targeting the Norwegian iGaming space. After years of offering its platforms to Norway as it tried to fight the government, Kindred finally threw in the towel. It said it would leave the country in June and reportedly exited in September.

The added measure to attempt to keep unlicensed gambling operators out of Norway isn’t surprising. Officials renewed Norsk Rikstoto’s monopoly less than a year ago, extending it for another decade.

However, the decision is also problematic, with some studies showing that gambling monopolies don’t provide adequate player protections.

Internet Loopholes

Norway is gambling on the protection of DNS blockers to retain its monopolistic gaming environment. However, as in all forms of gambling, there are no guarantees.

DNS serves as a crucial component of the internet infrastructure, acting as a translator between user-friendly domain names and the numeric IP addresses associated with web servers. When a user enters a domain name (e.g., into their browser, the DNS server resolves that name into the corresponding IP address.

Internet users can employ various techniques to bypass these DNS blocks. One standard method is to use alternative DNS servers, such as those provided by public DNS services like Google’s or Cloudflare’s

By changing their device’s DNS settings to use these alternative servers instead of the ISP’s default DNS, users can sometimes circumvent the restrictions imposed by the ISP. This isn’t foolproof, however, and doesn’t always work.

Virtual Private Networks (VPN) is another effective way for Internet users to bypass DNS blocks. A VPN encrypts the user’s internet connection and routes it through a server in a different geographic location, effectively masking the user’s IP address and DNS requests.

This enhances online privacy and allows users to access blocked websites by making it appear that their requests originate from a different location with unrestricted access. Like the use of public DNS servers, the use of a VPN isn’t always successful. However, its success rate is much greater than its failure rate.