Lottstift appoints Blå Kors as new steward of Norsk Gambling Helpline

Norway’s Gambling Authority, Lottstift, has appointed Blå Kors (Blue Cross) will take control of Hjelpelinjen, the country’s Gambling Helpline.

The decision follows Lottstift ending its partnership with the Norwegian health trust, Sykehuset Innlandet, which will cease operating the Gambling Helpline on 31 December 2023.

The appointment meets a growing concern by Lottstift on the increased demand of Hjelpelinjen, which in 2022 registered 825 inquiries, up 15% on 2020 figures.

Blå Kors was deemed as the optimal agency to operate the Gambling Helpline, which in 2024 will feature the support of 54 addiction care centres operating across Norway.

Expanding Hjelpelinjen’s support, Blå Kors operates a network of 1,700 skilled employees, 1,500 dedicated volunteers, and 2,400 active partners on addiction matters.

The appointment was announced by Lars Petter Degnepoll, Senior Health Advisor of Lottstift, who cited: “Blue Cross has worked with gambling problems for a long time and is well equipped to take over the Helpline.”

The new Hjelpelinjen will be operated by the Blue Cross Gambling Addiction service to improve access and anonymous support to all Norwegian communities, helping to break down barriers such as cost, stigma, and shame associated with seeking help for gambling issues.

“In Norway, we have the impression that it is often expensive to seek help, and there is a lot of shame associated with gambling problems.” Degnepoll added.

“That is why low-threshold services such as the Helpline are important. You can contact us anonymously and get help on what to do next. There is help. You can get out of the problem, and a phone call to the Helpline can be the start of putting the problem behind you.”

Lottstift underlines the finding of the National Centre for Gambling Research which estimates that 23,000 Norwegians struggle with serious gambling addiction, whilst 93,000 are in the risk zone of developing disorders or addictions.

Planned for November, Blå Kors will launch a revamped remote treatment service as a free-to-access portal forming part of its comprehensive offer for prevention and treatment.

Blå Kors Secretary General, Trine Stensen, stated: “The number of people struggling with gambling addiction is still far too high, but we are very happy that the numbers are falling, and that more people are asking for help than before.

“This is proof that preventive work and the monopoly model on gambling work. Gambling addiction is a public health problem that destroys many lives and families.”

The helpline will now, as part of the Blue Cross Gambling Addiction, continue as a nationwide, anonymous, free low-threshold help service for anyone who needs help related to money or computer gambling problems.