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Norway’s gambling law is far-reaching and very strict on advertising and providing online gambling. But how legal is it when applied to the rest of Europe? With casinos able to operate on a regional basis, offering services to players in each legal jurisdiction, it’s possible Norway’s law may not be legally applied when in other jurisdictions – if the EEA decides similarly to the NAV case.
Within Norway itself, Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto are the only two companies licensed to offer gambling services to Norwegian citizens. Any casinos listed on Casinotopplisten are operating in other jurisdictions outside of Norway that can freely offer gambling to any residents of a particular jurisdiction – for instance residents in Sweden can gamble at a casino licenced in Sweden for that purpose.
Legislation is ordering banks to block payments
The story in Norway is different, however – legislation goes so far as to order banks to block access to card payments for casinos and gambling establishments, even when located in another country. Given the huge scandal in court regarding social security payments to citizens visiting other countries in the EEA, could it be that the gambling law restrictions are also illegal, just like this revocation of payments was?
Complaints have been made to EEA court in the past regarding Norway’s gambling laws, but so far the country hasn’t budged. With growing pressure within the country aiming to push through changes in the law, arguing that revenue is being taken out of the country and that players will be pushed to black market casinos without proper legislation, it remains to be seen whether the government’s plans to strengthen their current model will run foul of EEA law again – as it fundamentally disagrees with it.
Further scrutiny of these laws, or any legal challenges that might succeed, stand to have a huge knock-on effect in future when it comes to Norwegian gambling legislation. There are two possible outcomes should further tightening of restrictions come in force: either the discrepancy in law and ability to apply it across non-Norwegian jurisdiction will remain in force, or the country’s laws on this issue will be declared illegal. In the NAV case, this resulted in overturning of prison sentences and refunds of incorrectly-seized funds. With estimated numbers on foreign websites offering gambling to the Norwegian market standing at between 1.7 – 2 billion NOK in 2019, the financial implications could be immense.