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Norway Takes Lead from U.S. Online Gambling Ban


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Amidst the recent news that the world’s two leading credit card issuers
MasterCard and Visa have stopped processing online gambling payments for
Americans, Norway has just dropped a bombshell of its own in the form of a law
that is aimed at clamping down on ‘unauthorized’ online gambling payments.

As per Norway’s Payment Act, which was recently passed into law, it is
now illegal for Norwegian financial service providers to process payments to
non-licensed online gambling websites. In other words, payments to and from
online gambling sites that are not licensed and thus regulated by the Norwegian
government.

While the move will no doubt be seen as a big slap in the face for many of the
world’s biggest online gambling operations which are not licensed in the
Scandinavian country, at least under the law Norwegian online gambling fans are
still free to gamble online as long as it is via ‘state approved’ online
gambling websites.

The Payment Act was given the seal of approval by Norway’s Royal family and is
seen by the government as a necessary move to keep taxable online gambling
revenues within Norway, and to ‘protect’ its online gamblers against the many
offshore online gambling operations over which it has no control or
jurisdiction.

The Norwegian law is similar to the U.S. Unlawful Internet Gambling
Enforcement Act
(UIGEA) which was passed by Congress in October 2006 and
signed into law by the President not long afterwards. UIGEA, which is set to
come into effect on June 1 this year, also targets the nation’s financial
service providers.

However, unlike the United States which is seeking to ban online gambling
outright, at least Norway has recognized that a complete ban will not prevent
gamblers from gambling online. But that will not stop Norway’s move from being
criticized by the European Commission for flouting online gambling free trade
agreements.

It’s no secret that the European Union is very battle-scarred from its constant
fight to convince EU member states to follow its prescribed online gambling free
trade agreement guidelines. And its cause was not helped when the European Court
of Justice recently gave Portugal the go ahead to retain its gambling monopoly.

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