Currency: Norwegian Krone (NOK)
Casinos with Poker
- Thon Hotel Oslo Airport
Just like in many Northern European countries, gambling is in the hands of a state monopoly in Norway. For reference, think of what Svenska Spel used to be in Sweden or what Danske Spil is in Denmark even today.
In Norway, two state-owned companies rule the gambling market: Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto. The former runs games such as lotteries and sports betting; while the latter exclusively offers horse race betting. As you can tell, online poker is in the selection of neither.
What’s more, the Norwegian government goes even further to prevent its citizens to play on foreign gambling sites than most countries. In February 2010, they passed a bill which prohibits credit card companies and online payment processors to transfer funds between online gambling sites and their Norwegian customers.
What might be behind Norway’s harsh public view of gambling is the slot machine “epidemic” of the early 2000’s in the country.
The 1995 Lottery Act granted permission to charitable organizations to operate slot machines in the country. However, unsurprisingly, many private companies took advantage of the loophole to set up their own slot machine enterprise while collaborating with a charity as a cover.
As a result, these gambling machines spread in the country at an exponential rate – and with that, so did people with gambling problems. Eventually, the Attorney General of Norway banned slot machines in 2007.
In 2015, however, some good develeopment came for the local gamblers, especially poker players. Poker tournamnets were allowed to run legally, with some specific caveats. For example, no player can spend more than NOK20,000 (around $2,400) on buy-ins unless they win some money in those tournaments. Cash games, alas, are still illegal.
Famous Norwegian Poker Players
Ola “Odd_Oddsen” Amundsgaard is one of the greatest online PLO crushers of all time. He has amassed over $3.862 million in profit combined, playing cash on PokerStars and Full Tilt.
He also took part in an interesting stunt in 2014. In order to prove to his home country’s law makers that poker is in fact a game of skill, he offered a $170,000 freeroll challenge to any sitting member of the Norwegian Parliament to take on him in a 10,000-hand PLO challenge. Erlend Wibord of the Progress Party took him up on his offer, but quit after being down 2,666 BB’s after just 1,056 hands.
No female player has ever won a WSOP Main Event title. However, in 2007, the WSOP Europe Main Event was won by a girl who was just 19 at the time. It was the Norwegian Annette Obrestad – she pocketed £1,000,000 for her victory.
Thor Hansen has been on the live tournament scene for over 30 years now. During his long career, he collected $2.950 million in cashes. He has two WSOP gold bracelets to his name. He won the $5,000 Limit Seven Card Stud event in 1988 and the $1,500 No-Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball event in 2002.
In 2014, Felix Stephensen finishes second in the WSOP Main Event for $5,147,911. He lost the heads-up battle for poker’s most prestigious title to a fellow Scandinavian, the Swedish Martin Jacobson. With $5.850 million in live tournament earnings, Stephenson leads Norway’s all time money list on Hendon.
– Playing Live Poker in Norway –
Live Poker Legislation in Norway
The state of legal poker in Norway is far from optimal.
Almost all real money games are illegal in casinos. An exception to the prohibition is home games where the game is not run as a business – in other words, the “house” doesn’t collect rake.
Thankfully, the push from poker fans in the early to mid-2010’s saw some results. Poker tournaments, as we wrote in our intro, are now legal in the country. Cash games still aren’t, however.
Live Poker Venue Norway
World Casino Directory lists one poker room in the entire country of Norway. It’s the Thon Hotel Oslo Airport where the Norwegian Poker Championship took place in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Starting in 2002, the Norwegian Poker Championship went abroad and chose the Citywest Hotel and Resort in Dublin, Ireland as their venue to escapte the harsh gambling laws in their home country. While they could hold the event on “home turf” now, they decided to return to Dublin in 2019 for the sake of tradition. It’s been held there every year since.
– Casinos and Poker Rooms in Norway –
Thon Hotel Oslo Airport
Online Poker Legislation in Norway
As we wrote in our intro, since the state-owned internet gambling company Norsk Tipping doesn’t offer online poker, there’s no legal option for Norwegian players.
Websites are usually not blocked by authorities. The real obstacle is the transferring of funds – once again, we already stated in the intro that the current law forbids money being transferred to or from gambling sites in Norway.
However, you can look for alternative online payment providers which can do that undetected, as some Norwegian poker enthusiasts like to do.