Norway moves to ban online poker

Annette Obrestad
Norway's own Annette Obrestad.

While the United States seems to be getting closer to dumping the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, Norway is getting close to passing a ban of its own.

The Norwegian Minister for Culture & Church Affairs, Tronde Giske, has introduced a piece of proposed legislation that would bar financial institutions from processing transactions to and from online gambling operators next year. That effectively makes it impossible for offshore online gaming organizations to do business in the market.

Norway is experiencing growth in the online gaming market and the public has expressed concern over problem gamblers.

The legislation will take form in an amendment to existing gambling laws. The country already has laws in place that cover horse racing and lotteries. The amendment will impact the Gaming Act, the Totalisator Act and the Norwegian Lottery Act. It will not only affect online poker but also transactions for lottery, casino, horse racing and sports betting.

Interestingly, the online gaming ban will target offshore gaming; state-owned gambling operator Norsk Tipping will likely be in the clear. Norsk Tipping generated €1.16 billion in revenue last year.

The proposal has been submitted for a period of public comment that will end in February 2008. At that point it will be referred to Parliament where it is expected to be passed into law during the spring term.

Ironically, one of the world's most famous Internet players, Annette Obrestad, hails from Norway. Obrestad surprised poker fans around the world by winning the inaugural World Series of Poker Europe and then placing second in the EPT Dublin.

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