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Norway May Soon Have its Own UIGEA

by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor

                 It seems that the Norwegian government may soon be implementing policy very similar to the UIGEA. A proposal to cease online casino gambling financial transactions was sent to Parliament by Trond Giske this week for legislators to vote on. If the Norwegian government were to vote in favor of the initiative, Nordic banks and other financial institutions will face criminal charges upon processing a payment for online gambling.

                Giske, the Minister for Culture and Church Affairs made several efforts in 2006 to eradicate all land based slot machines aside from those operated by the state monopoly, Norske Tipping.  Since then, Fiske has turned his attention to internet gambling. Where the proposal differs from the U.S. is that online casino gambling is not illegal in the States, but rather the financing of such. Under current Norwegian law, marketing, promotion or facilitations of internet gambling is prohibited by law. Giske intends to extend this prohibition to payment processing with his proposal.

                The amendment underwent legal drafting in February of this year where it was referred to as a proposal of clarification. As this wasn’t enough for some adamant anti-gamblers, there has been a high demand for the amendment to go so far as to block IP addresses from online casinos and other gambling websites.

                The proposal isn’t sitting well with the European Union, however. The EU, already in a dispute with the U.S. over discriminatory policy over internet gambling, has watched its progress from the sidelines. Norway is not currently a fully functional member of the EU, it does profit from the EU market and EFTA. Rumors circulate that the passing of this law could lead to further legal disputes with the European Union.

                According to research in Norway, 1.5 percent, or 71,000 citizens, of the Norwegian population are “problem gamblers” and that 133,000 citizens may be at risk. Additionally, the average gambling addict spent 5,000 Euro per year on gambling. This will no doubt be used by Giske to earn votes on his amendment. While 244,000 Norwegians had gambled on the internet last year, the revenue of which amounted to 961 million Euro, 48 percent of them preferred to play the Norwegian Lottery. Online poker was the second game of choice at 28 percent, closely followed by sports betting at 27 percent. Finally, casino games were preferred by 7 percent of the internet gambling population. This will no doubt be used by Giske to earn votes on his amendment, while Norske Tipping will remain protected.