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Placing Those Bets

After posting yesterday’s entry, I placed two bets: One fairly safe one on the Brazil v Croatia FIFA 2014 World Cup match on Thursday (5 USD on Brazil to win, 1.28) and a very risky one on yesterday’s Formula 1 race: 5 USD on Felipe Massa having the fastest lap. The odds? 17. Miraculously, Massa managed to set the fastest lap of the race, giving me a sweet return. This was partly because of luck; he pitted for a new set of tires towards the end of the race and had a lot of clean air in front of him when he left the pits, and partly because of the Williams team’s good form this weekend. The race in Canada was amazingly action packed and entertaining, unfortunately for Massa, he touched with another car on the final lap of the grand prix and totaled his car.

But even though I had a lucky bet yesterday, placing that bet was far from easy. The first natural step is to transfer money to the bookie. And you’d think it would as easy as transferring the funds from a Visa or MasterCard credit or debit card. But then again no. According to Norwegian law, betting and other gambling is not allowed – unless it’s done through the state owned gambling company, Norsk Tipping (Wikipedia article). The rationale behind this is that if the gambling is controlled by the state, people won’t get addicted.

All righty then.

The result of Norwegian gambling laws is that it’s impossible to transfer money from MasterCard and Visa cards issued by Norwegian banks to foreign gambling sites. Transfer to Norsk Tipping, on the other hand, isn’t a problem. And I can place exactly the same World Cup bets on that site – at what seems like worse odds, though.

Previously, it’s been possible to circumvent the Norwegian lock down on foreign gamlbing sites by first transferring money from, say, a Visa card to a middle man, like Skrill. But now, Skrill has implemented their own gambling related rules. When transferring money from the Visa card, you have to tell Skrill if the money will be used for gambling or not. If you say that it will, Skrill will tell Visa that the money will be used for dirty, dirty gambling and, because of the aforementioned Norwegian gambling laws, Visa blocks the transfer. However, if you say the money will be used for groceries and church donations, the money is be transferred from Visa, but now Skrill will not allow you to transfer them on to any gambling sites. So now you’re stuck with money you can’t use for gambling on your Skrill account and a lot of bets you can’t place.

But nothing is impossible. To fuel my gambling addiction, I signed up for a second Skrill account and transferred my marked non-gambling money to that account. After being transferred to the second account, the money was “clean” and could be transferred to any site, no matter what I told Skrill, Visa and the Norwegian government in the first place. This is the closest I’ve ever been to money laundering.

So, children, what did we learn today? The Norwegian ban on money transfers to foreign gambling sites doesn’t work. It sure makes it inconvenient to transfer the money; instead of one hop, the money has to be transferred three times before they arrive at the bookie. But it’s still possible, and if I can manage it, so can gambling addicts.

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