Norway tightens up rules to ban unlicensed games

13 May 2019

The Norwegian government has adopted a number of amendments to gambling regulations in the country in an effort to clamp down on operators offering services without the relevant licence.

The measures relate to payment transactions, with the government clarifying an existing ban on payments to and from unlicensed operators in Norway.

According to the amendments, the ban applies to both unlicensed operators and companies that carry out payments on behalf of them.

The Norwegian Gaming Authority (Lottstift) will now have the power to reject payment transactions related to certain account numbers, as well as make decisions regarding an operator or other payment intermediaries.

Banks and other payment service providers in Norway will also be required to investigate all payment transactions to and from an operator that does not hold a licence in the country, and report such activities to Lottstift.

The existing ban on payments to and from unlicensed gambling operators has been in effect since 2011, but Trine Skei Grande, Minister of Culture and Gender Equality, said banks had been seeking clarification on the measure.

“The purpose of the changes is to streamline an existing ban on the payment of money games without Norwegian permission,” Skei Grande said.

“Banks have stated that they want it to be clearer what the authorities expect from their side to follow up the payment intermediation ban. We have therefore specified which specific obligations the banks have in order to comply with the prohibition.

“The changes will help make it less attractive to play on foreign gaming sites without Norwegian permission. The unregulated players offer games with a higher risk of gambling addiction and are not subject to the same accountability measures as the gaming offer of Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto.

“Efficiency enhancement of the payment intermediation ban will help strengthen the exclusive right model and thus protect vulnerable players.”

Lottstift has been clamping down on unlicensed activity in recent months, issuing an order in February to stop Norwegian and foreign banks from processing transactions to seven operators.

Firstclear Limited, a subsidiary of Kindred Group, Lucky Dino Gaming and Dreambox Games were among those hit, after Lottstift in November 2018 sent out orders targeting Betsson, Cherry’s Co-Gaming, Gaming Innovation Group and Malta- and UK-licensed operator L&L Europe Players Ltd.

Last month, Lottstift also ordered Trannel International, a subsidiary of the Kindred Group, to cease activities in Norway after ruling that the operator had been running a number of sites without a licence.

Norsk Tipping is currently the only operator licensed to offer igaming in Norway.