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Norway Thumbs it’s Nose at EU Principles – February 23rd, 2010

Casino NewsIn a move that will inevitably be seen as disregarding EU principles on the free passage of goods and services, the Norwegian government has passed an UIGEA-style law banning the processing of online gambling transactions with ‘unauthorised’ sites – i.e. non-state monopoly enterprises in the Nordic country.

Norway is not a member state of the European Union (EU), but is, in effect, required to adopt most legislation created by the EU, due to its participation in the European Economic Area (EEA) as a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Additionally, Norway has chosen to opt into many of the Union’s programmes, bodies and initiatives.

The restrictions are enshrined in the Payment Act, which this week was given royal assent after being approved by legislators, officially making it the law of the land. Operators without a Norwegian gambling licence – in other words those not part of the state monopoly Norske Spil – will be impacted by the law, which makes processors accessories in unlawful gambling if they process transactions with ‘unauthorised’ sites.

In a quirk of coincidence, the law comes into force on the same date as the US equivalent the UIGEA regulations, which were postponed to June 1st 2010 late last year.

Pontus Lindwall the chief executive of the Swedish Betsson group which operates extensively in Scandinavia, recently downplayed the Norwegian threat to the industry (see previous OCR reports), opining that gamblers would find alternative routes for deposits and withdrawals.

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