The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), alongside Entercash payments processor, has presented a case against the Norwegian Ministry of Culture over its government’s policy of seeking to block online gambling payments.
EGBA said it believes payment blocking “infringes” on European Union law and the freedom of payment processors to do business across the European Economic Area (EEA).
Maarten Haijer, Secretary General, EGBA commented: “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 blockings 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.”
The association proposed a review of the government’s regulations on online gambling instead of blocking measures to protect the revenues of the state monopoly and fend off outside competition from EU-licensed operators.
It maintains adopting a multi-licensing regime – similar to other EEA countries, including those with existing state-owned monopolies – would improve the functioning of Norway’s online gambling market.
This stems from the fact the lack of choice available locally might lead some Norwegian players to search elsewhere and play on gambling websites based outside of Norway
EGBA expect introducing a multi-licensing regime would enable a greater variety of products, brands and competition on the Norwegian market to meet existing consumer demand – making the local market more attractive.
Haijer continued: “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.”