Draft rules imposing an UIGEA-style ban on financial transactions moves forward

Following the recent consultative process in Sweden on the Nyren Report's suggestions on the way forward for gambling in that country, another Nordic nation has started a consultative process.

This one is more focused and direct - an assault by Norway on Internet gambling which suggests that the Norwegian legislature pass a UIGEA-like law to prohibit financial transactions with Internet gambling organisations.

The Norwegian government has opened its proposed law to a consultative process that will run through to July 6, 2009, and has forwarded the draft legislation to the European Commission and European Economic Area regulators as required by regional rules.

The initiative has been running for some months, starting last December when the proposed move was approved in principle by the Norwegian Parliament, which authorised the drawing up of the draft legislation to impose the financial ban. This will require financial institutions to halt payments between Norwegians and gambling sites that are not approved by the government, which operates its own gambling monopoly in Norske Tipping.

Last week the Norwegians justified the ban to the EFTA Surveillance Authority, which monitors compliance with free trade principles by countries in the EEA. The Norwegians claimed that the ban on Internet gambling transactions is essential “to ensure consumer protection” and to “prevent unfortunate social consequences and crime related to gaming.

Transactions valued up to Euro 2 billion annually could be impacted by the law if it comes into force following the consultative period and further Parliamentary activity. Thus far the Norwegian Financial Services Association has yet to make official representations on the government's proposals, which will clearly have enforcement implications for the country's financial services industry.

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