A high-ranking churchman who went bankrupt after his son ran up multi-million pound gambling debts has called for internet casinos to be BANNED.

Bishop Ernst Baasland’s son Bjarte, 34, is on the run after an international arrest warrant was issued over an alleged £2.8 million fraud.

Bjarte told his parents he needed money to set up a data business in Prague so the bishop and his wife Bodhild took out loans worth £1.7 million to tide him over.


But in fact Bjarte had gambled away all the cash — and much more besides — gambling on the internet.

Within a short time his initial debts had soared to £6 MILLION.

“My son was in the grip of an addiction which has made him lie repeatedly,” said Baasland, the Lutheran Bishop of Stavanger.

“But what frightens me the most, is that one can lose so much money over the internet.

“These online gambling sites have to be stopped. There must be some kind of authority that can prevent this sort of thing.”


Baasland said it would be hard to forgive his son, but added: “I have to do it and I will”.

The bishop now says he is considering whether he can continue in his job given his son’s actions and his own bankruptcy.

Yesterday, Bjarte’s lawyer Hege Birkeland Ersdal said her client was “extremely sorry” that his debt problems had forced his father into bankruptcy and might even result in him losing his job.


Bishop Olav Skjevesland, who leads Norway’s Lutheran bishops, insisted that churchmen needed to have the confidence of the public but said he did not want to speculate about Baasland’s position.

Last month, as reported by Casino Update, Norway’s main opposition party which is tipped to become the government next year said it wanted to RELAX gambling restrictions, especially with regard to internet gaming.


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