Norway Continues with Plans to Block Gambling Payments After Legal Win

  • Norway only issues licenses to state-owned gambling companies
  • Successful in case to block all payments to and from online operators
  • Legal challenge cited EU's payment service directive
Gambling payment network safety concept.
Norway wins legal case that says it can block card payments to online gambling operators. [Image: Shutterstock]

Online gambling payments to be stopped

Operators in Norway have lost a legal challenge that would change how online gambling payments are processed in the country.

Bookmakers were concerned that new plans would stifle gambling competition by introducing a rule which would require all financial institutions to block payments to and from online operators.

allow state-owned gambling companies such as Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto a marked advantage

The legislation was drawn up by the government to allow state-owned gambling companies such as Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto a marked advantage after refusing to issue a Norwegian license to any other operators.

Legal challenge launched

Malta-based payment processor Entercash and the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) lodged a legal challenge against the plans, arguing that payment-blocking was not allowed via the European Union’s Payment Service Directive. But last week the Oslo District Court agreed that the directive did not specifically prohibit any state from implementing a gambling payment ban.

Entercash was also ruled to not be harmed directly by the result in that there was no business ban placed upon their activities specifically.

There is one additional part of the case that is still to be ruled upon, and that is whether the freedom of movement of services within the European Economic Area could also be extended to include payment-blocking.

Both Entercash and EGBA have yet to announce whether they plan to appeal the verdict.

Gambling largely illegal in Norway

Gambling in Norway is mostly illegal except on state-controlled services.

These include Norsk Rikstoto, for betting on horse races and Norsk Tipping, which allows sports betting, lotteries, and keno, among others. They are the only operators allowed to offer any form of gambling in the country.

The government introduced a bill in 2010 that required every bank in the country to prevent Norwegians from using debit cards or credit cards in online and offline casinos worldwide. Citizens in Norway are even required to declare any gambling winnings they reap worldwide.

New measures would strengthen this ideal, including DNS blocking which would be brought in to prevent people in Norway from even accessing gambling websites that are operated abroad. While Entercash and EGBA were swift to mount a legal challenge, unless they win on an appeal, it looks as though the measures will continue.

It is thought that Norway could potentially lose millions if they shift to a more open online market after research by Norwegian non-governmental agency Oslo Economics. They claim that a changing market could cost the government in less tax revenue but also announced that the possibility of an increase in problem gambling was “significant.”