No other nation can boast as big a pot of poker winnings as Norway on the recent European Poker Tour, where Norwegian players won more than their counterparts from Spain, Finland, Lebanon and Germany.
But that didn’t mean there were any congratulatory calls from the prime minister.
It’s illegal to play poker for money in Norway, where all gaming is regulated through government-sponsored operators Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto. Playing poker on the internet is prohibited also. It’s not illegal to play on international websites, over which Norwegian authorities have no control, but winners are expected to declare their earnings and pay tax on them.
And it hasn’t stopped an estimated 350,000 Norwegians from playing poker internationally, and now pressure is growing to allow the real-money game in Norway as well.
“The poker ban in Norway is ridiculous,” said Thor Hansen, viewed as the godfather of Norwegian poker and a three-time world champion. “I’m certain it would raise more money for Norwegian athletics and culture if it was legalized.”
The Progress Party and the Liberal Party are in favor of legalization. The governing Labour Party is opposed, however, fearing it will drain funds away from the official betting monopolies and result in social problems.