EGBA against Norway’s payment blockings policy

The association brought a case in court as it is against the payment blockings policy from Norway.

Norway.- The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), along with Entercash payments processor, brought a case last week against the Norwegian Ministry of Culture in Oslo District Court over the Norwegian government’s policy of seeking to block online gambling payments.

EGBA said that the payment blocking policy from Norway violates European Union law and the freedom of payment processors to do business across the European Economic Area (EEA). It said that instead of enforcing those restrictive measures to protect state monopoly revenues, it urges the local government to undertake a more fundamental review of how the country regulates online gambling.

At the time of the introduction of such measure, the Norwegian government clarified that there is currently an existing ban on payments from and to unlicensed operators. These new amendments establish a ban to unlicensed operators and companies in charge of payments on behalf of them. The amendments also establish that the Norwegian Gaming Authority (Lottstift) will be in charge of rejecting payment transactions related to specific account numbers. It will also be in charge of making decisions in regards to an operator or other payment intermediaries.

EGBA believes that adopting a multi-licensing regime would improve the functioning of Norway’s online gambling market and bring with it several other benefits. It added that online gambling is a consumer-driven market, but monopolies naturally restrict consumer choice and therefore it might lead them to search elsewhere and play on sites based outside of Norway.

“This is important because it would ensure more Norwegian players are protected by Norwegian laws when they play online and generate greater tax revenues for the state from local gambling activity,” explained EGBA.

Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of EGBA, said: “In today’s digital age it is virtually impossible to enforce national borders on the internet but that’s what the Norwegian authorities are trying to do by introducing payment blockings for online betting. Rather than being a tool to benefit consumers, such restrictive measures are aimed at protecting the revenues of the state-owned monopoly by cutting off outside competition from reputable EU-licensed operators.

“This is not only in breach of the EU’s internal market principles but out of step with the reality of a consumer-driven betting market, where players will inevitably search around the internet for value and choice in the games they play,” he said.

“This reality is why we’re seeing national gambling monopolies across Europe slowly being replaced by multi-licensing regimes which facilitate better consumer choice and enable better functioning national markets. Norway is one of only two EEA countries which do not have a licensing regime yet – but it is inevitable they will have to confront this decision sooner or later.

“The introduction of a multi-licensing regime would be a win-win: it would encourage more effective channelling which would benefit player protection, more effective local control of gambling activity and increased tax revenue for the Norwegian state.”

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EGBA legal Norway