5/31/10 – Norwegian online players at UK gambling group Ladbrokes recently received a notification that government restrictions on internet gambling through the financial system was imminent, and that credit cards from Norway could not be accepted for online gambling by Norwegian banks.
The move in this direction has been building for years as the Norwegian government sought to stay on-side with the European Commission (Norway is a member of the European Economic Area) but at the same time regulate online gambling to the commercial benefit of its monopoly Norsk Tipping.
Litigation with major international gambling companies has been a consequence of the Norwegian government's strategy, but in February this (2009) year the Norwegian Storting (parliament) finally passed the Payments Act and was given royal assent, with the purely coincidental implementation date of June 1st 2010.
The Norwegian approach draws heavily on the US equivalent (the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act 2006) insofar as it seeks to disrupt and halt financial transactions between Norwegian residents and ‘unlicensed' (in Norway) online gambling sites.
The Act also requires that financial companies processing transactions help enforce the law on pain of being classed as accessories to unlawful gambling if they fail to halt online transactions with companies that do not have a Norwegian licence.
With the Payments Act coming into force on June 1st this week, leading Nordic operators have opined that it is unlikely to have a significant impact on business, but there will almost certainly be some background activity seeking Norwegian licenses. These may prove hard to get as the government seeks to protect the commercial interests of its monopoly.
Other significant developments for June 1st 2010 are the implementation of the much-delayed UIGEA regulations in the United States, and the launch in California of Senator Rod Wright's SB 1485, which seeks the intrastate legalization, regulation and taxation of internet poker