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Ari Last

Ari writes and reports about European gambling issues for Right2Bet, an organization dedicated to allowing EU citizens to be able to bet with whichever EU-licensed betting company they wish, regardless of in which member state that company is based.

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Norwegian consumers despair as transaction blocking kicks in

1 Jun 2010

By Ari Last
As of today, Norway will become the first European country to enact financial transaction blocking as a method of prohibiting their citizens from using unlicensed foreign gambling operators.

The new law means that banks will be prohibited by law from facilitating transactions which occur between gambling operator and Norwegian consumers, not only in Norway, but throughout the rest of the world too.

An unlicensed betting operator is one which does not hold a Norwegian gambling license, which if you are a foreign betting operator, is impossible to attain.

We can't exactly put our finger on it, but something doesn't seem quite fair about a country not actually offering licenses to the foreign competition, and then blocking any unlicensed competitor.

Of course Norway isn't yet part of the EU but they are a member of the EC and therefore have to subscribe to EU trade laws and principles. One of those is the freedom to offer services yet clearly in this instance, Norway are deciding to ignore the very rules they are signed up to protect.

The most scandalous aspects of the financial transaction blocking are the baseless arguments for it that have been put forward by the Norwegian government.

Preventing fraud and crime and helping to fight gambling addiction are the reasons they've given, yet there is simply no proof that shutting out licensed EU operators achieves either of these aims.

On the contrary, by reducing the legal options open to their consumers, Norway is pushing players towards unlicensed and illegal gambling operators. Blocking where your citizens go online is a nigh on impossible task, and the more barriers one places before them, the greater the determination will be to circumvent them.

This is particularly the case when the legal options presented, in terms of value and quality, are so inferior to the ones being banned.

Norway's two state-operators, Norsk Tipping and Rikstoto are exempt from the transaction ban, though rather than flock to use their services, many Norwegian consumers will be intent on finding a way to use the better services provided by operators deemed as 'illegal' by their government.

If crime prevention and customer satisfaction and security were the real drivers of a country's gambling legislation, rather than devising ways of keeping licensed competitors out, governments such as Norway would be thinking of ways to work together with foreign operators.

Alas, we don't believe that the highly commendable motivations listed above are indeed the reasons behind regressive moves such as financial transaction blocking. Instead, they are merely attempts to boost the standing and profits of national monopolies, all at the expense of the consumer.

We'll be fighting this legislation and will be pushing for an amendment at the earliest possible opportunity. Help our cause by visiting our website,, and by signing our petition today.

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