February 19, 2010

Norway online gambling payments ban signed into law

A ban on the processing of any unauthorised online gambling transactions in Norway has been passed into law.

Norway’s Payment Act, which orders the clampdown, has received royal assent, meaning that is therefore now fully adopted legislation.

The Act establishes that processing payments for remote gambling where the gambling is being conducted without a Norwegian licence will amount to “accessory involvement” in unlawful gambling.

This offence will apply to any financial services provider assisting in the transfer of payments from players in Norway, and will come into effect on 1 June – the same day that the US Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) will come into effect, which always prohibits financial services providers from processing gambling transactions, and has recently led to crackdown on US egaming payments by US credit card giants Mastercard and Visa.

However Stephen Ketteley, a partner in the gaming law practice at law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner, played down the significance of the law.

Ketteley said: “Whilst this development, which has been a long time coming, will cause banks, processors and the like to re-assess any activities that could be caught by the ban, it will be interesting to see if it will have an appreciable effect on operators' Norwegian businesses.

“Various other payments bans have struggled, either because operators have already established their view on taking related business - and a payments ban won't change that - or because the financial services sector simply refuse to accommodate the authorities' requirement to curb private gambling activity.”

Ketteley’s view echoes that of operators including Sweden’s Betsson, which has a large Norwegian customer base but whose chief executive Pontus Lindwall, recently said that Betsson does not expect the Norwegian payments ban to affect its business

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