|According to numerous press reports this week, Norway’s Minister of Culture and Church Affairs is pressing ahead with plans to constrain online gambling by halting payment systems to online gambling companies.|
Trond Giske reported plans last month to introduce a Norwegian version of America’s Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) but it now looks as if he has opted to amend existing gambling legislation to encompass payment processors.
Giske has proposed a ‘clarification’ that would see existing gambling laws applied to the processing of payment transactions from online gambling. If passed, the ‘clarification’ would effectively criminalize any Norwegian financial institution that processed such payments as current law prohibits the marketing, promotion or facilitation of Internet gambling services.
The proposal went forward late last week and is now open to public comment until mid February before it is put before Parliament.
The justification for the ban is that it would help protect Norwegian problem gamblers but many critics suggest that it is nothing more than a sneaky way to protect the State gambling monopoly, Norske Tipping. Giske was a proponent of legislation last year that banned all land slot machines not owned by this monopoly. As a result, all slot machines in Norway are now Government-run, generating revenues that have grown by 4.6 percent.
Online poker is a popular pastime among Scandinavian players and many, including 19-year-old prodigy Annette Obrestad, have shown world-class talent by winning tournaments and large prize purses at events online and around the world.