Norway bans transactions to six Malta-based gaming firms, which it accuses of operating “illegally” within its territory, the Times of Malta has learnt.
Under Norway’s current law, gambling services can only be provided by two state-run entities – Norsk Tipping, which operates sports betting and casino games, and Norsk Rikstoto, which provides race betting services.
However, unregulated gambling websites operated by companies located and licensed in other jurisdictions have long been extremely popular with local gamblers. Norwegian lawmakers have been trying to purge the local gambling space from unlicensed operations for years, but their efforts have seen almost no success.
The Times of Malta reports that the Norwegian Gaming Authority (Lotteri- og stiftelsestilsynet) has ordered local banks to block all payments to and from accounts that have been discovered to be used for processing gambling-related transactions.
It has also emerged that the regulator sent last November warning letters to four Malta-based gambling companies, urging them to stop targeting Norwegian players. The four companies were Betsson Group, Co-Gaming Ltd. (a subsidiary of Swedish gambling group Cherry AB), L&L Europe Players Ltd, and Gaming Innovation Group. Kindred Group and Lucky Dino Gaming Ltd. received similar warning letters earlier this month.
A spokesperson for the Gaming Authority said that all six operators were found to have been marketing their operations and servicing Norwegian customers without being permitted to do so. The spokesperson also pointed out that the letters were sent both to the companies and the Malta Gaming Authority, from which all six operators hold licenses for the provision of online gambling services.
Companies Form Lobbying Association
Four of the above-mentioned operators formed earlier this year a Norwegian Industry Association for Online Gambling. The group’s main goal will be to lobby for the re-organization and liberalization of the Norwegian gambling market in a manner that would make it possible for interested international companies to obtain local licenses and operate in a regulated environment.
The Norwegian government has pointed out that one of the main reasons it prefers the current monopoly system is because it believes it provides better protection for gambling customers.
The four founding members of the newly formed association, with those being Kindred, Betsson, GIG, and Co-Gaming, tried to change local lawmakers’ mind with a report issued last summer that claimed that a licensing system would actually provide better value for gamblers and more sophisticated tools and practices for the prevention and treatment of problem gambling.
News emerged late last year that Kindred has filed a lawsuit against the Norwegian Gaming Authority arguing that its payment blocking practices as well as the recent removal of gambling apps from Norway’s Apple App Store represented “regulatory overreach” and unfair restriction of trade.