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Norway loses control of online gambling & Swedish banks block casinos

The Scandinavian casino market battles different foes due to outdated regulations and the struggle to protect players.


Online casinos and regulators are always struggling to balance what's right for players and what makes the most sense financially. The casino industry as a whole is one that is fraught with the need for constant change to keep up to date with the changing times.

Norway and Sweden are both fighting battles that could see the casino industry if these countries take a hard knock or bounce back triumphant.

Norway: Losing control of online gambling

The European Gaming and Betting Authority recently revealed that 66% of Norwegian online gamblers are spending their money at online casinos outside of Norway.

Currently, Norway is the last country in Scandinavia with a gambling monopoly. This means they are the only country that only allows online gambling at the casinos owned by the government. There are only two state-owned online casinos available, and every other casino site is banned. 

You might want to check out these Norwegian online casinos.

The Norwegian government believes that this is the best way to protect players from harmful gambling and sites that could be out to cause harm. However, it also means that the country is missing out on the chance to collect up to €200 million in taxes every single year from the online gambling industry!

Maarten Haijer, Secretary-General of the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), shared his thoughts on the shocking stats, saying: "It is estimated that 66% of Norway’s online gambling activity now takes place on international websites, meaning the country has lost control of over half of its online gambling market, is losing out on about 2bn NOK in additional tax revenues each year, and many of its gamblers are not protected by Norwegian laws."

"This is a significant problem for ensuring the monopoly does what it says: controlling online gambling and protecting players. If Norwegians play with international websites there is no way for the state to control their activity or protect them," continued Haijer.

Haijer stated that Norway is 'operating under a fallacy' if they believe that maintaining their state of monopoly will work in the long run. All in all, the Secretary-General stated that 'Norway is losing control of its online gambling market'.

A harsh judgement but one that makes sense as other Scandinavian countries are thriving under a multi-licensing system. The tax benefits alone are enough to cover any issues that may arise and help create better infrastructure in both Denmark and Sweden. Until recently, that is.

Sweden: Battling the banks

As with Norway and how the country operates, banks are not friendly when it comes to servicing online casino customers. Sweden has recently faced a similar backlash in what appears to be an illegal turn of events.

Major banks have started refusing service and rejecting payments from Sweden licensed online casinos. The banks include big names such as SEB, Swedbank, Nordea, Handelsbanken, DNB, and Dankse Bank. There's no apparent reasoning for the standoff and the banks are denying the allegations entirely.

Gustaf Hoffstedt, secretary-general of Swedish trade association Branscheforenigen för Onlinespel (BOS), commented: "As far as I am aware, no concrete justification for the dismissals and banks’ assessment has been provided in any case. Online gambling companies are, as stated above, dependent on basic financial infrastructure in the form of banking and payment services to conduct their business. This requires [them] to be able to store customers’ funds as well as receive deposits and make payments to customers."

One of the major issues of banks refusing to work with online casinos is that this cuts off access to the mandatory bank ID system. This system helps online casino verify players and run checks against the problem gamblers database. This puts players at risk and banks in a tricky situation.

“Without access to the Bank-ID system, online gambling companies need to use alternative solutions to identify their customers,” he explained. “These solutions risk being neither as effective for companies nor as safe for users,” continued Hoffstedt.

By denying casinos access to major payment systems as well as the bank ID system, the online casino industry in Sweden could be in big trouble. For now, the Swedish Trade Association has stepped in and will be investigating the situation with more details to follow.

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