bout 300,000 Norwegians currently break the law by playing the game online poker, with the most popular sites among Norwegians being Unibet, PokerStars and Betsson.
Despite losing money, the Norwegian state introduced the ban on payments on 01 July last year, justifying the intervention as a means to protect individuals prone to develop gambling addictions.
According to the authority, 1 % of people aged 12 – 18 have a gambling problem and 3.5 % of players are at risk of becoming addicted.
“It is fast gaming that invites people to invest a lot of money. We call it a game with aggressive properties. It is often about regaining what has been lost, inviting you to take chances, with characteristics that develop addiction. This is our experience from our helpline for gambling addicts,” Senior Advisor Rune Timberlid told Bergens Tidende (BT).
The report shows the number of players’ relatives contacting the Gaming Board’s Help Line increased by 10 percent in 2010.
Nevertheless, despite the ban, Norway has produced a number of internationally recognized poker players.
Bjørn-Erik Glenne won the 2006 European Poker Tour (EPT) in Barcelona and 27- year-old Kevin “KevBoyStar” Stani captured the 2010 EPT final, played in Tallinn. Mr. Glenne is dissatisfied with the Norwegian Government’s attitude towards poker.
“I’m privileged in that I get to travel around and play in big tournaments in Europe and the US. The government is simply against everything that’s fun: alcohol, gambling, cars – everything,” he told PokerPlayer magazine in an interview.
Joakim Rönngren, ex PR manager for Ladbrokes’ Nordic poker site, believes the law is too stringent.
“Finland and Norway have an amazingly intolerant point of view and are still using every means of aggression to work against the wishes of the individual,” he said.
Nevertheless, the virtual world of poker lovers worldwide is also gradually becoming smaller. Just over a week ago, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) indicted the owners of the world’s three largest poker sites, PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker, with bank fraud, money laundering and other gambling-related offences.
Rune Timberlid says there is little new growth in the number of poker players in Norway.
“There are probably many who have experienced that this is a sure way to lose money. It is an undeniable fact that most do when it comes to gambling.”