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Norwegian online casino players received unhappy news over the weekend, when it was revealed that the Norwegian Gaming Authority has allegedly ordered banks in the Scandinavian country to stop processing transactions between players and online casinos.
As of today – Monday 24th April – Norwegian banks are reportedly no longer allowed to process transactions to five online payment services originating from Norway and those to two online casino groups.
The payment services are Worldpay, Earthport, Trustly, Inpay and Entercash, while direct payments to Stay Cool and Mangas Gaming have also been halted.
The big question now is whether Norwegian players who have funds in their e-wallet accounts will be able to withdraw them.
Online casinos have been a thorn in the side of Norwegian gambling authorities for a long while now. Because these businesses are online, they circumvent the monopoly that the Norwegian authorities have over the gambling industry.
Operators claim that, because Norway is part of the European Economic Area, customers in the country have the right to enjoy the free movement of goods and services, interpreted by the operators as a green light to offer their services to players in Norway. On the other hand, the Gaming Authority feels that this interferes with the country’s ability to control how its citizens gamble and how much.
Director Linda Vøllestad Westbye said that the decision is part of a long-term effort to stop illegal gambling. The mission, she said, is to protect Norwegians from the negative consequences of gambling, a concern magnified by the addictive nature of online casino games.
Operators wishing to offer services in Norway must apply for a license, something granted only to outfits making less than NOK300 million in annual sales and restricted to lotteries. Online casino operators hold no such license and so the Gaming Authority is fully within its right to restrict money transfers to them.
Director Westbye had more bad news for players with funds already in their now-restricted e-wallet accounts. Players must work with game companies to arrange payment through other means, she said, as the Authority does not claim responsibility for securing the funds.
So far, other payment methods have not been targeted. E-wallet services like Skrill and Neteller remain usable to Norwegian players. However, the Gaming Authority has not ruled out extending its order to cover other payment services.
Last year alone, the seven services included in this latest order transferred a total of NOK 2.2billion. In the first two months of 2017 alone, NOK 500 million were exchanged in over 90,000 transactions with Norwegian customers.
When asked about the other uses of the payment methods in question – such as online purchases at e-commerce sites or payments in real stores via mobile applications – Westbye said that the Gaming Board strongly believed that it was highly unlikely that these payment methods were being used for anything other than illegal gambling.