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Norwegian Bishop’s Son's Online Gambling Debts Mount

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Sep/23/2008
Ernst Baasland

Top community officials are among those who unwittingly lent large sums of money to finance a Norwegian bishop's son's online gambling debuts, according to a report filed by the Aftenposten news organization.

Bet365 was cited among the web sites that helped foster Ernst Baasland son's gambling addiction.

Now on leave as the bishop of Stavanger, Baasland claims he and his wife weren't aware until recently that their son had gambled away money they had borrowed from friends and associates and sent to him.

His son, Bjarte, is believed to owe tens of millions of kroner to persons who lent him money through his own mother.

Among them, reports NRK, are doctors, judges, lawyers and other professionals who turned over millions to the bishop's wife, Bodhild Baasland. She had led them to believe they were investing in her son's high-tech start-up firm in the Czech Republic.

Both Bodhild and Bjarte Baasland are now charged with fraud, while the bishop and his wife also have been declared bankrupt. The bishop, who faces losing his high position in the Norwegian state church, has claimed that neither he nor his wife were aware until a few months ago that their son hadn't founded any high-tech firm and instead had gambled away the money they had sent to him.

Aftenposten reports that the official number of persons with heavy online debts "is just the tip of the iceberg."

Norway, which is not a member of the European Union, plans to introduce a US-style ban on payments processing for internet gambling. The EU has aggressively gone after the United States for what it deems a "protectionist" attitude towards online gambling and those businesses operating throughout Europe including PartyGaming and Ladbrokes.

Norway, however, has not been as proactive in choking the industry compared to EU member nation, Sweden, which has declared an all out war on i-Gaming.

Norwegian online gambling firm Action Poker and its Million Dollar Poker Club is one of Gambling911.com's most prominent advertisers. The company trades publicly on the Norway Stock Exchange and adheres to strict policy in ensuring customers do not become addicts. Foreign owned online gambling businesses are less inclined to care whether a Norwegian becomes a gambling addict or now.

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Christopher Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher

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