An upcoming change to Norwegian gambling laws designed to crack down on illegal internet gambling will come into effect in a few months. The new law is called the Payment Act. It has already been approved by lawmakers, but won’t be enforced until June 01. In a nutshell, the new law attempts to crack down on illegal online gambling by punishing local financial institutions that process transactions between Norwegian accounts and unlicensed internet gaming sites.
Punishment will come when a bank or other financial provider assists in money transfers to and from certain online gambling sites in Norway. The ban will only affect locally-operated banks and payment processors since Norwegian laws do not apply across borders. The Payment Act is aimed primarily at unlicensed internet gambling sites that are hosted in other countries, but the new law will also help crack down on local sites that are operating illegally.
In many respects, this new law is similar to the UIGEA in the United States, which also aims to tackle the problem of unauthorized internet gambling by blocking financial transactions. Coincidentally, the UIGEA is scheduled to become active on the same day as Norway’s Payment Act.
Stephen Ketteley of Norway’s Berwin Leighton Paisner law firm is not sure how effective the ban will be. “Various other payments bans have struggled,” says Ketteley, “because the financial services sector simply refuses to accommodate the authorities' requirement to curb private gambling activity.”
Gambling operators are not concerned either. Betsson chief executive Pontus Lindwall says, “Although it’s not 100% clear what will be hit and when, I think it’s only a minor part of payments that will be hit. There will still be ways for clients to pay.”
Internet gambling in Norway will persevere, especially since the new law only targets financial institutions, not players.