Norway’s gambling regulator has ordered all local banks to block the flow of money from them for what they term as unauthorized online casinos.
The Norwegian Gaming and Foundation Authority (Lotteri- og Stiftelsestilsynet, NGA) issued an order that required banks to stop processing payments from those online casinos starting from April 24, which followed an audit of what the government termed as irregularities, The Jerusalem Post reports.
Norway has a history of maintaining strict regulations across the entirety of its gambling industry. Most activities are reserved for the state-owned Norsk tipping. The government considered the idea of possibly opening up their market to international casinos, but that didn’t materialize. In December, it assumed that most private casino operators would not submit to the government’s guidelines that layout social responsibility.
According to the NGA, over USD $256 million flowed through the seven gambling companies in just this past year. To the NGA the scale and the rate at which the money flowed came as something of a shock, which lead them to ask banks to comply with their measures.
However, the accused companies have stated that they would continue offering online gambling to Norwegians since the tactics used were illegal. The gambling companies have unanimously agreed and form a collation in a bid to ensure that they can continue to do business by offering gambling services to Norwegians.
The legal skirmish with the government ended up with the court upholding the decision. The Oslo District Court ruled in favor of the Ministry of Culture, whom it said had the powers to prevent payment processors from helping gamblers access international gambling sites that didn’t have Norwegian gambling licenses. However, some casinos have been able to fly under the radar because of being able to accept cryptocurrencies.
Oslo Economics, a non-governmental agency, published a report which claimed that if the Norwegian government shifted to the open market model like Denmark, it would end up losing revenue. It could mean that a lot less tax revenue is collected and possibly lead to an increase in gambling activity which is viewed as being problematic.
The report also stated that the government’s efforts to eliminate online gambling operations it sees as being unauthorized would be more successful because of restrictions in place that don’t allow operators to advertise locally. The one drawback of the restrictions cited in the report is that local broadcasters would face losses of up to USD 55.5 million a year because of not running advertising for online casinos. So, in a way, it would hamper local broadcasters’ ability to produce new content, which in turn will affect other associated industries.