The European Gaming and Betting Association has joined forces with payment processor Entercash, to bring a case against the Norwegian Ministry of Culture in Oslo District Court over the Norwegian government’s policy of seeking to block online gambling payments
Stressing a belief that such restrictions infringe on European Union law and the freedom of payment processors to do business across the European Economic Area, the group has urged the country’s government to undertake a more fundamental review of its online gambling regulation.
Adopting a multi-licensing regime, as is the case a large number of EEA countries, “would improve the functioning of Norway’s online gambling market and bring with it several other benefits” says the EGBA.
Via the introduction, the group states that it would enable a greater variety of products, brands and competition on the Norwegian market to meet existing consumer demand, which it asserts would make it more appealing to players.
Maarten Haijer, secretary general of the EGBA, explained: “In today’s digital age it is virtually impossible to enforce national borders on the internet, but that’s what the Norwegian authorities are trying to do by introducing payment blocking for online betting.
“Rather than being a tool to benefit consumers, such restrictive measures are aimed at protecting the revenues of the state-owned monopoly by cutting off outside competition from reputable EU-licensed operators.
“This is not only in breach of the EU’s internal market principles, but out of step with the reality of a consumer-driven betting market, where players will inevitably search around the internet for value and choice in the games they play.
“This reality is why we’re seeing national gambling monopolies across Europe slowly being replaced by multi-licensing regimes, which facilitate better consumer choice and enable better functioning national markets.
“Norway is one of only two EEA countries which do not have a licensing regime yet, but it is inevitable they will have to confront this decision sooner or later.
“The introduction of a multi-licensing regime would be a win-win: It would encourage more effective channelling which would benefit player protection, more effective local control of gambling activity and increased tax revenue for the Norwegian state.”