Member and Jurisdiction Profile: Mr Atle Hamar from the Norwegian Gaming Authority

Norway’s regulator, Mr Atle Hamar, has returned to the role of Director General of the Norwegian Gaming Authority (NGA) after having served for more than two years as the Deputy Minister in the Ministry for Climate and Environment. This was not the first time Atle had been called upon to serve the Norwegian government, previously serving as the Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Justice from 1997 to 1999. 

When Atle was released from the temporary position as Deputy Minister in February 2020, he chose to return to the NGA. Atle says he made that choice because he wanted to return to the exciting, dynamic, and technological regulatory area that gambling truly is. 

Atle’s career as a gambling regulator started in 2000, when he became Director General of the newly established Norwegian Gaming Authority. He immediately understood the need for international cooperation and started searching for international colleagues both through cooperation with colleagues in the Nordic countries, and European and international colleagues in GREF and IAGR. 

If you look back in IAGR’s files, you will find Atle’s name mentioned several times as one of the very central participants in the process of building IAGR to what it is today. 

NGA got involved early in IAGR, and Atle joined the board already in 2004, together with Peter Dean, Scott Shearer and Tom Auriemma as central IAGR Officers. Atle served as President of IAGR from 2006-2007. 

Intimately involved with the decision of IAGR members to form an association independent of the IAGA, Atle says it was a real pleasure to see the growing number of IAGR members in the years to follow and to witness IAGR’s increasing relevance as a good and valuable arena for regulators. 

Atle served as an IAGR trustee until October 2014. “I am very excited to see how well IAGR has developed while I have been out of the game. I compliment the new digital IAGR newsletter and the development in the organisation of having digital board meetings. 

“Gambling is no longer a national issue. We must work together across borders to find good solutions to offer a sound gambling market with safe, secure and responsible games. International cooperation is becoming more and more important. Technology is no doubt groundbreaking and cross-border, and regulators depend on interaction and sharing of knowledge.” 

“For a while now, the global wind has been blowing in a sustainable direction where all of us are encouraged to abstain from pollution, show moderation in everything we do, eat healthy and choose organic foods. In this world I do not understand that it can possibly be the intention that we, who regulate the gaming industry, must find ourselves accepting that the industry calculates with some individuals’ suffering!” 

“Gambling is supposed to be entertainment. In my opinion, it should never be possible under any regulation to play away your family’s food money or home. Very few people want a detailed regulation where the individuals’ freedom is set aside. Finding a balance between detailed regulation and individual freedom is one of regulators’ most important tasks.” 

“If we as regulators are to succeed in taking our cooperation one step further, I think we need to work even closer together through the exchange of knowledge and information. I truly believe that national regulatory challenges can be solved through dialogue across national borders.” 

“The Covid19 pandemic has had a positive effect in several countries in that many of us have taken steps towards digitalisation. I do not think I am exaggerating when I claim that everyone has had a steep learning curve in the use of various technological tools and in setting up digital meetings using Zoom, Google Meet, Teams and Skype. Now let us rock the boat and certainly not let the pandemic gag us. Let us use the opportunities we have. We must lift our sector forward using technological tools. Now, during the pandemic I can clearly see the need for establishing new digital arenas for membership interaction. My hope is that IAGR can help develop a solid digital networking arena for members to use between our annual conferences, also after the pandemic. Only in this way can we succeed in building better regulation and implementing a more responsible gambling policy in the next few years.” 

“Every time I speak with a colleague, I learn something. Every lesson learned is a step forward. Even though IAGR members face different challenges on a national level, there is no doubt that we can still learn from each other.”