In February this year, the Norwegian Gaming Authority banned Norwegian banks from processing payments to three foreign online gaming operators for illegally offering gambling services in Norway.
The regulator has now used its powers to block seven companies from operating in the Norwegian market without a licence.
Currently, the only licensed online operators in Norway are the state-owned Norsk Tipping and the state-controlled Norwegian foundation Norsk Rikstoto, which exclusively takes bets on horse racing.
Even with a state-run monopoly in place, Norwegian punters are often tempted by offshore online gambling operators.
Silje Sægrov Amble, Senior Adviser at the Norwegian Gaming Authority said while revenues for licensed gambling in Norway generated about €620 million in revenue, it’s estimated that unlicensed activity is worth nearly €250 million.
About 1.8 million people gamble with Norsk Tipping each year, however around 250,000 choose to gamble with unlicensed operators.
One of the key risks of this unregulated form of gambling is that players can use credit cards to play using third party payment services – and can quickly rack up thousands of euro in debt in a short time.
Norway’s two licensed operators do not accept credit card payments for gambling credit.
The regulator can order Norwegian banks and finance institutions to stop both incoming and outgoing payment transactions from overseas gambling operators. This goes both for gambling operators and any payment service providers they use.
‘According to the regulation we have now, the orders have to be specific about the account number to stop transactions,’ Silje said.
‘When we have information about account numbers owned by gambling companies used to process gambling without a license in Norway, we send orders to the banks and they follow up.’
Silje added, ‘Many of the foreign payment service providers have left the Norwegian gambling market after having received information about the payment ban or copies of our notice letters or orders to the banks.’
If companies can somehow circumvent these protective measures, the Norwegian Gaming Authority will consider issuing day fines until conditions are met, to make the companies follow the order.
The regulator can also consider reporting the illegal activity to the police – with those found guilty facing both criminal fines and prison up to three years.
So what about gambling operators that want to legally gain entry to the market? At this stage, there are no plans for opening up Norwegian gaming market to other operators.
If you’d like to know more about the Norwegian Gaming Authority and online gaming contact Silje on firstname.lastname@example.org.