Never has Norsk Tipping had so many customers in a single year than in 2018 – 2,021,575, to be precise. This is about 60,000 more than in the previous year and, among all our records, is perhaps the most important of our achievements during 2018. It is not without reason that this is especially important to us.
A robust player base is essential if we are to meet one of the main objectives we have been assigned to achieve – the prevention of problem gambling.
Figures from the Norwegian Gaming and Foundation Authority indicate that the company’s market share has increased, if only by a small amount. Growth remains a challenge for Norsk Tipping despite the fact that we can boast more players than ever before. Ninety per cent of Norwegian gamblers still gamble with Norsk Tipping. This puts us in a unique position to direct gambling behaviour along a greener path.
A positive influence
High numbers of players boost the influence of the company in its attempts to stimulate those parts of the market that are the least associated with gambling addiction – the lotteries. As much as 60 per cent of our revenues comes from lotteries (Lotto, Vikinglotto, Extra and Eurojackpot). In contrast to our sister companies in other countries, Norsk Tipping has succeeded in developing and strengthening its lottery portfolio. In many countries, lotteries continue to fare poorly in the face of quick and high-risk online casino gambling.
At the same time, we must also meet the public demand for a credible product offering quick games such as online casino gambling, bingo and live betting games. We achieve this with competitive products that meet our customers’ demands – placed in a responsible gambling setting with loss limits and approved tools that provide customers with control and an overview of their gambling activities. We believe that we are witnessing responsibility in practice when we can show that nine out of ten of our customers who reach their self-imposed loss limits, DO NOT seek out other online companies in order to continue gambling. They would rather wait until the following month before resuming gambling with us.
In spite of the tools we offer, we observe that some players nevertheless develop unhealthy gambling habits, or are in danger of doing so. By contacting these customers directly, we are working systematically and methodically to encourage them to adopt specific behaviours that help them escape their vicious circles. These conversations are providing encouraging results and we can document a real influence on our customers’ behaviours.
Naturally, our ambition to attract greater numbers of players also applies to upcoming generations. It is important to us to appeal to young adults so that this group too will turn to Norsk Tipping first if they want to gamble. In 2018 we saw that 150,000 of our two million customers were younger than 30, and the trend is positive.
More customer-friendly systems, effective campaigns, attractive products, high levels of trust and a good reputation are among the secrets of our success.
Among all of our attractive customer offers, I would like to mention “Vekking” (the wake-up call from Hamar). Almost half a million Norwegians booked a wake-up call from Norsk Tipping in October, and some lucky late sleepers won NOK 50,000 kroner. One very happy top-prize winner walked away with NOK 1 million!
Our growing number of customers has another pleasing consequence, which many people will regard as perhaps the most important. Norsk Tipping enjoyed record profits in 2018. More than NOK 5.5 billion were distributed to an almost infinite number of good causes all across Norway, and our customers themselves, via the Grasrotandelen (Grassroots Share), shared a record total of NOK 649 million donated to local clubs and associations who put the money to work to support good causes.
The money received from our two million players does not increase the wealth of investors or owners. It goes towards building effective emergency response teams, enriching experiences and improved community health. This money supports active children, care for the sick and meaningful recreational activities, and represents an invaluable source of funds for their beneficiaries and, in practice, everyone benefits one way or another.
Norsk Tipping also has big ambitions on behalf of society as a whole in its work to promote responsible gambling behaviours. We have a tradition of putting ourselves in the forefront of this work, and our strategy for the coming years is clearer than ever. Our ambition is to be recognised as a world-leader in this field, and in 2018 we dedicated a great deal of our internal resources to this important work. Responsible gambling behaviour is a key element of Norsk Tipping’s policies, and we have established metrics for assessing such behaviours. These are reported at regular intervals as part of the company’s internal management procedures.
We can also state that our work to counter gambling addiction appears to be bearing fruit. The number of calls to the Help Line declined in 2018, while the number of calls concerning online casino gambling offered by foreign companies is on the increase. We believe that ever better measures to promote responsible gambling implemented by Norsk Tipping, given its dominant role in the market, will continue to influence trends in a positive direction. The same applies to the Norwegian Gaming and Foundation Authority's work to limit the expansion of an aggressive private gambling sector.
Innovation and development
In 2018 we refurbished the company's visual profile – the way we appear to our customers. We have upgraded our classic lottery cross logo, renewed our various product logos, and procured for ourselves an entirely new universe of fresh visual elements to boost our communications and marketing. This has been a long and costly process, but we are in no doubt that it has been the right thing to do. In-depth surveys revealed that young adults did not feel that the old image was especially attractive. It was time to do something about it. Of course, an attractive image alone is not sufficient in competition for new customers, but our work to modernise and develop new products and services requires an up-to-date profile adapted to today’s digital world.
Of course, in order to succeed we must also continue to innovate and advance product development. The main theme of 2018 has been international collaboration. We are now implementing many projects with our sister companies in other countries to identify new products and services that can capture the imagination of the upcoming generation of customers. We are working internally and effectively with a process of continuous improvement, incorporating a faster implementation of changes and improvements focusing on our customers. It is this ambition that has motivated us to develop our new organisational model that was launched in 2018, where the key component of value-based management is combined with faster and more agile work processes.
Norsk Tipping wishes to contribute towards the sustainable development of society. Responsible gaming practices are at the heart of our work linked to social responsibility and are currently ranked at “compliance level”, together with our areas of focus addressing business ethics, anti-corruption, human rights and the environment. In 2018 we prepared a compliance programme designed to address money laundering risk, combined with the implementation of anti-corruption “dilemma training” for Board members and managers at Norsk Tipping. In March, the company was awarded Eco-Lighthouse status in recognition of our social responsibility policy. This certification requires that Norsk Tipping maintains an overview of, and takes responsibility for, the company's impact on the environment. In 2019 we will prepare a framework policy for the follow-up of our suppliers, starting with areas such as human rights compliance.
In addition to the compliance level, we have defined two areas of focus within what we term “value creation level”. These are equal opportunity and public health. Sponsorship agreements have enabled us to help encourage more girls to take part in sports. We have also written a separate clause that will be inserted in all our joint collaboration agreements (both new and renegotiated) in support of the principle of equal opportunity.
Norsk Tipping is working to establish high-level KPIs for all aspects linked to social responsibility. This work is based on our stakeholders’ expectations of the company, the UN sustainability goals, and the five main goals that we believe we can currently contribute towards. In the chapter “Responsible gaming”, you can read more about Norsk Tipping’s work to promote social responsibility.
Supervision and auditing
Norsk Tipping is subject to audits by the public authorities across a wide range of its activities. The Norwegian Gaming and Foundation Authority carries out regular audits of activities such as our work to promote responsible gaming, lottery draw procedures and marketing.
Any findings and non-conformances are used as the basis of our continuous improvement activities. No significant non-conformances were revealed during our 2018 audits.
The Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority carried out an audit in autumn 2018 and revealed breaches in the working hours’ provisions that applied to shift workers at our sports betting division during the Pyeongchang Olympics. The company has been working all year to put in place an effective framework for shift work at the sports betting division, and the inspection authority declared itself satisfied with our efforts.
Among other external directives, it is appropriate here to draw attention to the new general data protection regulation (GDPR). During 2018, Norsk Tipping has been working to adapt its procedures to the new requirements. The new regulations strengthen individual citizens’ rights at a time when digital advances mean that information about people and their behaviour is treated as a saleable commodity. In 2018 we have updated our customer agreement, procedures and guidelines, and have made it easier for our customers to decide as to what is acceptable in terms of the individually-adapted data they receive from Norsk Tipping.
Although the Norwegian government decided not so long ago that the monopoly model was here to stay, the public debate on gambling continues as intensely as ever. The unregulated companies have joined forces to form their own lobby organisation, which will probably play an even greater part in future public debates, with the aim of dismantling the monopoly model. Since licensing was introduced to the Swedish market, private sector companies and the supporters of licensed gambling feel that they have the wind in their sails. We are eager to see the results of the new Swedish regulatory framework, but even at this early stage can point to an explosive growth in marketing pressure, with the effects that this has at a personal level for those who currently are, or are in danger of being, vulnerable to gambling problems. The point of departure for the Swedes is entirely different from our own, and there is little reason to believe that conclusions from the Swedish experience will have any bearing on Norway. When it comes to a product such as gambling, where there is a significant risk of misuse and social problems, combined with a potential for correspondingly significant revenues for operators, I am happy that the Norwegian authorities continue to assert that socio-political objectives must lie at the heart of our own domestic regulations. With this as our guide, we are in no doubt that a reinforced monopoly model, as has been chosen by both the Norwegian parliament and government, is the right path to take if we are to achieve our goals.