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EGBA calls for ‘fundamental rethink’ on Norway regulations

| By iGB Editorial Team
Organisation blasts plans to block payments to foreign gaming sites

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has urged the Norwegian government to introduce new regulations to allow foreign gaming companies to operate in the country, saying the current system is “not sustainable”.

At present, regulations only permit Norwegian punters to legally gamble with either Norsk tipping or Norsk Rikstoto. However, some opt to place bets with international companies that do not hold a licence in the country.

Norway’s government recently completed a consultation on its proposal to begin blocking payment transactions to and from these foreign gaming websites.

However, the EGBA has openly criticised the plans, saying such proposals are not a “realistic or effective measure to control internet activity”.

The situation is now at a point where the EGBA has initiated court proceedings against plans to begin blocking payments, saying such activity is illegal under both Norwegian and EU law.

The organisation said that blocking payments is “easy to circumvent, virtually impossible to enforce for Norwegian banks, and creates an artificial market by shutting off EU-licensed payment service providers”.

The EGBA is instead calling for the government to develop new online regulation that is “modern, open to competition, protects consumers, and reflects consumer choice and the reality of the digital age of borderless internet”.

Maarten Haijer (pictured), secretary general of the EGBA, said in a statement issued to iGamingBusiness.com: “From a consumer perspective, there are only two licensed gambling providers in Norway – both state-owned – and this is just not sustainable in an age when consumers can easily search around the internet for their preferred choice of gaming product.

“A fundamental rethink and reworking of the Norwegian online gaming regime is therefore necessary to ensure that local and foreign operators can co-exist and have equal access to a well-regulated market which meets the realities of consumer demand for different gaming products.”

Haijer said this can be “easily achieved” through a national licensing regime and cited the recent re-regulation of the Swedish market as an example of this.

“This would enable the Norwegian gambling authority to bring the activity of foreign websites under its control, alongside existing state-owned operators,” Haijer said.

“That’s exactly what the overwhelming majority of European countries have been doing, and that’s exactly what we are urging Norway to do.”

The Norwegian Gaming Authority (NGA) has recently taken a number of steps to clamp down on unlicensed operators in the country. Earlier this month, the NGA revealed that it had succeeded in persuading Apple to remove unlicensed gambling apps from its App Store.

In July, NGA reiterated its support for new regulations to limit the impact of unregulated gambling after a spike in advertising from offshore operators. International operators spent some NOK866m (€89.2m/$103m) on television advertising in Norway last year.

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