A while back, the government of Norway announced its plans to compel the country’s financial institutions to block payments to and from internationally licensed online gambling companies. The Norway-facing international gambling operators were seen as a threat to the country’s two state-owned gambling monopolies – Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto.
Initially, the country enforced a ban on payments to and from gambling operators back in 2010. However, the gambling regulator found that the international gambling operators they were trying to block out still accounted for a huge chunk of payments. As such, they began mulling over tougher restrictions.
Even though the local financial institutions already have mechanisms in place to prevent such transactions from being processed, some of the operators that have not been licensed to operate in the country have been able to find workarounds. Some of these workarounds include the use of third-parties as well as the use of payment identity masking technology.
Unsurprisingly, the move was met with a lot of criticism from both the country’s residents and other parties. For instance, some court cases that were filed against Norway’s gambling regulator argued that the payment-blocking violated the European Union’s Payment Service Directive. A different lawsuit seeks to ascertain whether or not the payment-blocking plans are consistent with the European Economic Area’s rules regarding the freedom of movement of services.
Amended Payment Ban Coming
Despite the criticisms and the rather loud opposition to the plans, Norwegian gaming regulator Lotteritilsynet has recently confirmed that the ban will come into effect at the beginning of 2020. The ban that is to be implemented is an amended one that includes a number of critical changes.
Lotteritilsynet will now have the powered to request the banks to block payments based on the names of the gambling companies as well as the relation to certain account numbers. In addition to that, the gaming regulator will also be making important decisions regarding how the gambling operators and the payment intermediaries will be working together.
“The Norwegian gambling model’s foundation is to help protect vulnerable groups from becoming gambling addicts,” said Gram Skår, Lotteritilsynet’s lawyer and advisor.
Once the ban is enforced, the banks will not be allowed to process any payments to any online gambling operators that have not been licensed by the regulator. In addition to that, the financial institutions and other payment processors will be required to investigate all of the potentially illegal transactions. The findings will then need to be reported to the gambling regulator who will then use that information to determine the size of the fine to impose.