It is prohibited for Norwegian banks and other financial institutions to transfer money that are deposits or winnings in gambling offered by gambling operators who are not authorized to offer gambling in Norway. The ban applies to deposits from players, most commonly via credit card. The ban also applies to the payment of winnings, most commonly to the player’s bank account. The aim of the measure is to reduce the amount of illegal gambling in Norway, in order to protect the players.
Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto have long held licenses to offer money games in Norway. In 2017, five 9-year permits were granted on the basis of the Lottery Act, to lotteries with a turnover of up to NOK. 300 million per year. These lotteries are:
- Pantelotteriet, by contractor Norsk Pantelotteri AA. Organization number: 996 684 075.
- Postkodelotteriet, by sole contractor Novamedia Norsk Postkodelotteri AS. Organization number: 996 684 075.
- UNICEF-lotteriet, by Lottovate Limited. Organization number: 915 756 697.
- Klimalotteriet, Norsk Underholdningsspill AS. Organization number: 977 337 003.
- Fotolotto, by contractor Fotolotto.no AS. Organization number: 915 697 178.
This means that payment transactions to and from these lottery operators do not fall within the scope of the ban and must not be stopped.
Gambling operators circumvent the ban
Most foreign gambling companies have introduced payment solutions to circumvent the ban. The money transfers are largely through third-party companies. This makes it more difficult for banks to identify transfers to and from foreign gambling companies.
In addition, this has allowed Norwegian players to use credit cards when playing with foreign gambling companies. The credit cards have a built-in barrier on transactions to companies that use the merchant category code for gambling. Since the transactions now go through third party companies that use different codes, the transactions are approved. Thus, Norwegian players can play, using money they do not have, and in a short time accumulate a large credit card debt.
Measures to make the ban more effective
The Gaming Authority has worked strategically and long-term with measures to streamline the ban on the transfer of money to and from foreign gambling companies.
In 2015, we identified several third-party companies that provided deposits to such companies. Banks and financial institutions have received a letter with information about these companies.
The Gaming Authority has made several orders to Norwegian banks and financial institutions to stop payment transactions to and from bank accounts to gambling companies and companies that we have identified as payment providers for foreign gambling companies. These accounts have mainly been used to pay out winnings.
Here you can see orders sent to Norwegian banks about illegal payment services to foreign money-gambling companies.
We have also sent information letters to companies that we have identified as payment providers for gambling companies. Several of these companies, after dialogue or after an order has been sent to Norwegian banks, have chosen to stop gambling transactions to and from Norway.
Last year, new amendments were made to the regulation on the prohibition on payment transfer of money games that do not have a Norwegian permit, in order to increase the effectiveness of the ban. The amendments took effect on January 1, 2020 and include the following:
- Clarify that the payment prohibition applies in general and includes third-party solutions that carry out payment transactions on behalf of gambling companies.
- In addition to making orders to reject payment transactions identified by bank account numbers, the Gaming Authority can make orders identified by the name of a gambling company or other payment service providers. This will also provide the authority the ability to make an order to stop the payment of deposits in the case of card transactions to third parties.
- An obligation for banks and other companies that provide payment services in Norway to investigate all payment transactions to and from foreign gambling operators or others that the Gaming Authority has issued an order on.
- A duty to provide information, for banks and other companies that provide payment services in Norway, to the Gaming Authority on companies that provide payment related to gambling that is not authorized in Norway, at the request of the Gaming Authority.