Norwegian banks ordered to block online gambling payments


norway-banks-online-gambling-paymentsNorway’s gambling regulator has ordered local banks to cut off the flow of money between Norwegian gamblers and unauthorized online gambling operators.

Norwegian media outlet Klassekampen recently reported that the Norwegian Gaming Authority (Lotteri-og Stiftelsestilsynet) had issued an order on March 29 requiring banks to cease processing transactions with seven companies as of April 24 following an audit of suspected illegal activity.

The affected companies include five international payment processors – Worldpay, Earth Port, Trustly, Inpay and Entercash – while the two other companies are local firms linked to gaming operators Stay Cool and Betclic Everest Group subsidiary Mangas Gaming.

Norway maintains a tight grip on its gambling market, reserving most activity outside of small-time lotteries for the state-owned Norsk Tipping. The local government had entertained the possibility of opening up the market to international online operators but these hopes were dashed last December when it was decided that private operators wouldn’t be willing to submit to the government’s idea of social responsibility.

The NGA claimed that a total of NOK 2.2b (US $256m) flowed through these seven companies in just the past year, with a further NOK 500m in just the first two months of 2017. The scale and volume of transactions reportedly came as something of a shock to the NGA, leading them to lean on the banks to up their compliance game.

Klassekampen claimed that online gambling operator Betsson was a Worldpay customer while the Kindred Group’s flagship Unibet brand was most associated with Earth Port.

Betsson spokesperson Kim Rud Petersen declined to state whether or not the Group used any of the affected processors, but maintained that the NGA’s tactics represented “a violation of European Union law.” Petersen insisted that Betsson would “continue to offer entertainment games to Norwegians” and didn’t see that the NGA’s strong-arm tactics “will affect us significantly.”