Four armed bandits robbed approximately 15 poker players, mostly from Norway, at gunpoint during a private poker gathering in Strömstad, Sweden, during the early hours of Friday, Aug. 22.
The robbery began as four masked men armed with guns forced their way into the poker game at the Hogdal Bygdegård farm. Robbers then forced the poker players to the floor before robbing them.
The robbers are currently on the run and no arrests have been made, but the Norwegian police and border control are on the lookout.
The Swedish Police have confirmed to Scandinavian residents that this brazen robbery was likely to targeted for "easy money."
Tore Lomgård, head of the police investigation in Strömstad, told Swedish newspaper Bohusläningen, "It is quite obvious that the criminals knew the poker game was playing for money and they planned to rob it."
Why Were Norwegians Playing Poker in Sweden?
Real-money poker is currently illegal in Norway. In fact, even the Norwegian Poker Championship has taken place outside of Norway for many years. The past few years it has been held in Dublin, Ireland. Live poker players in Norway currently have a couple of choices. They can either play illegally in the underground games organized in the country, or they can go to a neighboring country such as Sweden and play legally.
Norway's current gaming laws do not allow any real-money games, making these games not only lucrative targets for criminals, but for the police as well.
Many Norwegian poker players therefore choose to travel to Sweden where poker is legal in private parties. Even though the games might be safe from a police raid, the fact that many Norwegian poker players are known to be traveling with lots of cash have made the games a soft target for a potential robbery.
However, things may be about to change. Only a couple of months ago, Norway's Ministry of Culture issued a recommendation asking to allow home poker games, small poker tournaments, and the Norwegian Poker Championship inside the country.
The regulatory group is recommending to permit home games with up to 10 players, and a cap on the buy-in of 500 Norwegian Kroner (approx. $81). While this cap isn't all that big, it is a start, and if adopted might prevent many Norwegian poker players from leaving the country to legally play poker for real money. The cap, if adopted, may not prevent Norway's bigger poker players from leaving the country since they are used to playing for bigger stakes, but it is a step in the right direction of keeping countrymen within boundaries.
Stay tuned at PokerNews as more develops in Norway.
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