New limit to curb lottery losses

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The Norwegian government plans to limit the amounts of money that can be spent by individual players active in Norsk Tipping, the state-owned and regulated national lottery organization. The government is responding to concerns about gaming addicts who can ruin their own and their families’ finances.

Many Norwegians tune in every week to watch Norsk Tipping hosts like these draw numbers and announce who has won the week's various games like "Lotto." Both lottery and government officials worry too many people are spending too much money trying to become "Lotto Millionaires," so limits are being placed on gaming. PHOTO: Norsk Tipping

Many Norwegians tune in every week to watch Norsk Tipping hosts like these draw numbers and announce who has won the week’s various games like “Lotto.” Both lottery and government officials worry, however, that too many people have been spending too much money trying to become “Lotto Millionaires,” so limits are being placed on gaming. PHOTO: Norsk Tipping

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Wednesday that the government will effectively restrict the amounts of money Norwegians can spend playing lottery games, by imposing a loss limit of NOK 20,000 (USD 24,000) per month. Everyone placing bets or paying for various lottery cards will soon see their amounts registered and offset by any winnings. If the net loss in a given month exceeds NOK 20,000, players won’t be allowed to gamble any more of their money.

The move comes after several thousand active players have been under oberservation because of the large amounts of money they spend on games like Oddsen, Lotto, Tipping and other electronic games offered by Norsk Tipping. “There are many sad cases of human destiny here, and families ruined by gaming addiction,” said Linda Hofstad Helleland, the government minister in charge of sports and culture. “That’s why we’re setting a loss limit of NOK 20,000 that will regulate the amounts people can play for in a given month.”

Norsk Tipping, a wholly state-owned organization that’s regulated by Helleland’s ministry, has a state monopoly on gaming in Norway. In return, all of the organization’s profits are distributed to athletic, cultural and humanitarian programs in Norway. The funds earmarked for sports are distributed by the ministry itself, while those for cultural and humanitarian causes are distributed by the government and the Parliament.

While some may protest the new limit as a new “nanny state” restriction, officials at Norsk Tipping itself support the government’s move, even though it may result in a revenue decline. They have observed that some of their customers play for, and lose, what they consider to be too much money, and hope the new limit will help prevent that.

“We offer between 15 and 20 various games, and we want a limit that will track each players’ total amount of gaming expenditures,” Torbjørn Almlid, chief executive of Norsk Tipping, told NRK. “We have some customers who play for more than they should, and we want to help them stop that. We think this will lead to healthier gaming behaviour in Norway.”

Some anti-gaming advocates claimed they wished the limit would be set even lower than NOK 20,000 but Almlid believes the amount is reasonable. He also downplayed warnings that avid gamblers will simply start playing on competing international gaming sites instead.

“We think our customers will choose to limit their own gaming, instead of moving over to other gaming companies,” Almlid said.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund