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Better late than never

Congratulations to Jean-Francois Vilotte, the chief of the French betting regulator ARJEL, for recognising that “high taxation and a limit on the rate of return to players may cause gamblers to seek out illegal sportsbetting providers“.

Now, why does that happy news remind me of the story we were told as schoolboys, that if you trod on a dinosaur’s tail it would take two hours to notice?

Posted in Betting industry, Regulation.

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  1. MD says

    In a similar vein, this was sent to me from Gambling Compliance:

    Scrutiny Shows Mixed Results For Norway’s Payments Ban

    18 Feb, 2011 / GamblingCompliance / Daniel Macadam

    Norway’s payment ban on internet gambling has enjoyed only partial success in its first six months, as players found it harder to use foreign sites but more than half found ways of bypassing the blocks.

    The Norwegian Gaming Authority’s preliminary evaluation of the payment controls, released this week, show that 52 percent of online players paid for gambling by credit or debit card after the ban came in, down from 67 percent before.

    At the same time, 35 percent of gamblers said it has become more difficult to gamble online since the ban on payments to sites outside of Norway came into effect on 1 June, 2010.

    This rises to approximately 50 percent when taking into account respondents who had not paid for gambling in November or December.

    Rune Timberlid, a senior advisor to the Norwegian Gaming Authority, conceded yesterday that it “would prefer internet gambling to have been more affected than it was”, but knew beforehand there would be ways around the blocks.

    Norway was the first European country to go ahead with plans to tackle online gambling through payment blocking, Timberlid pointed out, and it now has more data on how players pay for the services and what is effective about the blocks.

    Critics argue that online gamblers can set up foreign accounts and use foreign payment systems to circumvent the controls, and that this then takes them outside the Norwegian regulatory system.

    In particular, players who use e-wallets will be able to continue playing, since their payments avoid the blocks on processing payments to companies registered with the merchant code 7995.

    The percentage of online gamblers paying via e-wallets was largely unchanged at 12 percent, though, according to Timberlid, and likewise via bank transactions at 11 percent.

    The preliminary evaluation has now been passed on to the Norwegian Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs, and will be followed by a fuller analysis before the end of 2011.

    The government said yesterday it welcomed the initial findings, but would wait until the second evaluation until drawing up any final conclusions.

    “What this shows is that players are saying it’s harder to play online and also that gambling companies have to put more effort into marketing and getting Norwegian players to play,” Rolf Sims, a legal advisor to the culture ministry, told GamblingCompliance.

    “When the ban was proposed in 2007, we never said this was going to stop gambling on the internet. We said it was going to make access to an unlicensed gaming operator in Norway more difficult.”

    Ahead of the ban, online operators targeting Norwegian customers said they were confident that only a minor part of payments would be hit initially and that clients would easily find alternatives.

    “We see that there are a small amount of players who are responsible for a large amount of gambling – a few high rollers who really put a lot of money into online gambling and probably aren’t going to stop anyway,” Sims said.

    The prohibition has “given a signal” for first-time gamblers, though, Sims argued, adding that the survey has borne out the argument that the payment ban made players think twice before gambling on foreign sites they see advertised.

    Further controls on unlicensed gambling sites are available to the Norwegian government, including IP filtering which was left open as a possible future option in the white paper on the payments ban from 2008 and Parliaments subsequent consideration of the bill..

    Internet filtering “could be considered in the future”, Sims said, but noted that it was “just an option” at this stage.

    A consultation is also underway over whether incumbent sports betting and lottery monopoly Norsk Tipping should be allowed to offer its services online to help drive customers away from the unlicensed sites.

    Norsk Tipping was asked in December to present its proposals for such a move, but has not yet submitted its plans to the government.

    In a wider reform of responsible gambling policy in Norway, Norsk Tipping brought new limits in on underage gambling as well as on maximum stakes and losses last week.

    From February 10 all of its games have an 18 year age limit, bringing everything in line with sports betting and gaming terminals.

    All registered games, except for gaming terminals and scratch cards, also have a general limitation of 40,000 Norwegian kroner (€5,100) per day, NOK 100,000 per week, NOK 300,000 per month and NOK 1m per year.

    Losses on gaming terminals are limited to NOK 2,200 per month and NOK 400 per day, although it is double this for terminals in bingo halls.

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