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Norway Legalizes Live Poker Tournaments, Opens to Home Games

Norway Legalizes Live Poker Tournaments, Opens to Home Games

Live poker events may soon head back to Norway, as a bill recently introduced to the country's parliament is set to modify the restrictive regulation that banned live poker from the country.

Following the recommendations issued by Norway's Minister of Culture Thorhild Widvey in June and the thorough preparation work made by Norway's gambling regulator Lotteritilsynet, the new bill aims to permit home poker games and establish a brand new legislative framework for event organizers.

"Prior to today, poker championships were held abroad," the Minister said. "In the future, these championships could be held in Norway."

A communication issued on Friday, Oct. 17, by the Ministry of Culture, stated that Norwegian authorities have decided to amend the current legislative framework in order to allow events with up to five regional qualifiers leading to a main event with a limited prize pool.

Also, according to a bill introduced to the parliament, live poker events with no more than 10 participants and a buy-in of NOK 1,000 ($153) or less will soon be permitted without the need of a specific authorization from the Lotteritilsynet, or any other local institution.

The NOK 1,000 buy-in limit marks a substantial increase compared to what was announced during last June, when the limit seemed to have been set at NOK 500, approximately $83.

If adopted, the new regulation on live poker events in Norway could represent the beginning of a more radical reform, as the country is reportedly considering opening its online poker market, currently controlled by Norway's monopolistic operator Norsk Tipping.

According to industry rumors, the Norwegian government seems intent on allowing online poker, even though there are currently some delays due to some questions by the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Even though Norway is not a member of the European Union (EU), it is expected to adopt many European regulations as an EFTA member.

The issue of poker regulation in Norway was brought to the spotlight thanks to a remarkable initiative realized by poker pro Ola "Odd Oddsen" Amundsgaard.

In attempt to prove the mistake made by the government in regulating poker as a game of chance, Amundsgaard publicly challenged any Norwegian Progress Party politician Erlend Wiborg to play him heads up for one million Norwegian Kroner (about $167,000) over 10,000 hands.

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