4.3 Other relevant issues and debates
Gaming machines have been an important source of income for many Norwegian organisations working for idealistic and humanitarian purposes (e.g. the Norwegian Red Cross). While non-profit organisations with idealistic objectives were the sole owners of gaming machines, a decision in the Storting (the Parliament) in 1994 cleared the way for commercial actors to run gaming machines. During the last years, considerable attention has been directed to gaming addiction as a social problem, which means that the idealistic and humanitarian organisations find themselves in a delicate situation. On the one hand, their work has been dependent on the income from gaming machines, while on the other, this way of financing their activities has produced social problems in conflict with the overarching aims of these organisations. In order to fight gaming addiction, the Storting changed the legislation in 2003 so that Norsk Tipping AS, which is Norway's leading gaming company and wholly-owned by the Norwegian state, obtained the sole right to run gaming machines. The NGOs that ran gaming machines were promised economic compensation for their loss of income. According to the plan, the existing gaming machine businesses were due to be replaced by the monopoly run by Norsk Tipping during 2005 and 2006. However, in the autumn of 2005, the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) decided to bring the Norwegian gambling machine monopoly to the EFTA Court. According to the ESA, a gambling machine monopoly is a restriction on the freedom of establishments to provide goods and services within the EEA region, and is therefore not in accordance with the EEA Agreement. On 30 May 2007, the EFTA Court finally stated that the main principles of the Norwegian gambling policy do not violate the EEA agreement.