Seven operators hit by Norwegian payment blocking orders

18 February 2019

The Norwegian Gaming Authority (Lottstift) has ordered the country’s banks to cease processing transactions to a trio of igaming operators in February, taking the total number of payment blocking orders issued by the regulator to seven.

Earlier this month Lottstift issued orders to foreign and local banks banks ordering them to block transactions from Norwegian bank accounts to Firstclear Limited, a subsidiary of Kindred Group, Lucky Dino Gaming and Dreambox Games.

Lucky Dino Gaming operates under a licence from the Malta Gaming Authority, while Dreambox Games is licensed by the Estonian Tax and Customs Board.

This follows four orders being sent to operators in November 2018, targeting Betsson, Cherry’s Co-Gaming, Gaming Innovation Group and Malta- and UK-licensed operator L&L Europe Players Ltd.

“Offering gambling in Norway without a [licence] is not allowed,” a spokesperson for Lottstift told iGamingBusiness.com. “Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto are the only two gambling operators with permission to operate online gambling in Norway.

“It is stated clearly in the three Norwegian Gambling Acts that it is not allowed for any entity to process payment transactions to and from gambling operators that do not hold a permit in [the country].”

Under secondary regulations passed last year following a public consultation, Lottstift can issue banning orders using specific account numbers for both Norwegian and foreign banks. The regulator noted that it currently works with around 200 banks to ensure these orders are effective.

Efforts are also underway to close a loophole allowing gaming operators to advertise their services on satellite channels that broadcast into Norway from other countries.

However these efforts are being challenged by operators, with Kindred Group filing a lawsuit against the Norwegian Ministry of Culture, the government department that oversees Lottstift.

In its filing, Kindred claimed the regulator was going beyond its remit by imposing unfair restrictions, including payment blocking and banning its apps from the Apple App Store in Norway. The case is likely to be heard in the Olso City Court in Autumn 2019.

In related news, a Lottstift order for multi-level marketing company Lyoness AG to cease all activity in Norway has been upheld.

The company, which allows users to earn cashback on purchases with participating companies and to earn commission from referring friends to products and services, was described by the regulator as "an illegal pyramid-like turnover system". Lotterinmenda, a board that oversees the regulator, upheld Lottstift's decision, and found that it had not made any procedural errors - as alleged by Lyoness - when reaching its original decision.

"We are pleased that the Lotterinmenda has confirmed Lottstift's decision, and that it rejects the allegations from Lyoness about procedural errors," Lottstift senior advisor Monica Alisøy Kjelsnes said. "Lottstift has made a thorough assessment of Lyoness's activities and the conclusion is clear: [it] expects Lyoness to comply with the decision and to cease all activities in Norway."