Norway’s Horse Race Betting Monopoly to Keep Control for Another 10 Years

Posted on: December 12, 2022, 11:21h. 

Last updated on: December 12, 2022, 12:58h.

Norway likes to keep its gaming operations in-house, so it’s no surprise that horse racing will still be controlled by a monopoly. Norsk Rikstoto will control the reins on horse race betting for another 10 years following its latest coup, according to a notice on its website.

Norsk Rikstoto
A promo booth for Norsk Rikstoto at a Norwegian horse track. The entity will keep its monopoly on horse race betting for another 10 years. (Image: TGN)

Norsk Rikstoto first appeared in 1982, when it was created by the Norwegian Trotting Association (Det Norske Travelskap) and the Norwegian Jockey Club. Although it didn’t have a monopoly on the activity at first, it later gained complete control.

Norsk Tipping controls all other sports betting in Norway, something that’s been a source of frustration for sports betting operators like Kindred. This singular grasp of sports betting in the country has resulted in concerns that many bettors are turning to offshore options to find better deals.

Norsk Rikstoto Holds On

Norsk Tipping offered horse race betting until 1993, when Norsk Rikstoto earned its monopoly status. In renewing Norsk Rikstoto’s status, Anette Trettebergstuen, the minister of culture and equality, said that monopolies make for better control over problem gambling.

This despite empirical evidence to the contrary. Many countries with open gambling and betting markets, including Spain and the UK, have low problem gambling rates.

In both of these countries, studies put the rate at less than 1%. In Norway, according to the National Competence Centre for Gaming Research, the rate is 3.1% for medium risk, while 1.4% of the population falls into the problem gambling category.

The number could be skewed further. Other reports indicate that anywhere from 50% to 66% of the betting and gambling population uses offshore options. As such, the ability to capture complete data on Norway’s gambling industry is virtually impossible.

This conclusion was reaffirmed last year by Maarten Haijer, the secretary general of the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA). He said that Norway has “lost control” of its gambling market, as well as NOK2 billion (US$200 million) a year in potential tax revenue.

At the same time that Norway misses out on revenue, it also fails to provide the safe gambling mechanisms it boasts of providing through its monopolistic approach. With so many gamblers and bettors using offshore options, they aren’t willing to seek help through established channels. They also run the risk of using platforms that don’t have safeguards in place.

Norsk Rikstoto Slips

In its most recent revenue update covering the third quarter of the year, Norsk Rikstoto reported an overall drop in its performance. In 2018, the annual turnover was over NOK2.71 billion (US$271.271 million), which is a number that hasn’t been seen again.

The following year, turnover dropped to NOK2.56 billion (US$256.25 million), followed by NOK2.7 billion (US$270.27 million) the following year. In 2021, likely a product of COVID-19, turnover dropped to NOK2.38 billion (US$238.23 million).

This year, it climbed up slightly, but is still down at NOK2.48 billion (US$248.24 million). The says it believes it’s on track for a record year once the last quarter concludes.