Monday February 17 ,2014 : WILL NORWAY ALLOW LIVE POKER TOURNAMENTS THIS YEAR?
Minister for Culture is pushing for a more liberal approach.
The Norwegian Minister for Culture, Thorhild Widvey (57) is pushing for a more liberal approach to live poker tournaments in the Scandinavian country, and has expressed the hope that the nation might host a Norwegian Poker Championship in 2015, according to a report in the publication Boerse-Express.
Norway has traditionally imposed tough restrictions and fines on those seeking to arrange live poker tourneys and the minister's desire to open the market up a little more is a breath of fresh air.
It will be an incremental approach, starting with restrictions such as capped buy-ins and prize pool sizes, according to some observers, who believe that strong anti-gambling organisations will oppose the move, fearing that it may lead to further expansion.
Widvey's proposal is to allow paid permits for tournaments in licensed land-based gambling establishments. The Conservative Party minister has wide experience with moving bills through the legislative process; she has been involved in politics since 1989 and is a seasoned campaigner, having previously held the key portfolio of Petroleum and Energy in the Norwegian coalition government.
In this she will likely have support from the junior Progress Party in the ruling coalition, which has in the past expressed approval for a gambling licence model similar to that deployed in neighbouring Denmark.
Widvey has already asked Lotteritilsynet – Norway's gambling regulator – to draw up legalization by March 1 this year which will enable her liberalisation plan.
Another neighbour – Sweden – is reportedly reviewing its currently monopolistic approach to online gambling following pressure from the European Commission, which is insisting that the government justify a position which on the face of it is in conflict with EU principles.
In essence, the Commission has suggested two courses to the Swedes – justify the monopoly in terms of consumer protection and the national public interest (and that brings with it restraint on marketing, for example) or open the market through licensing and regulation.
The European Commission is becoming increasingly demanding on the issue of EU equality, and has opened infringement dossiers against Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland and Romania.
This, along with the need for revenues, should add to the need to reconsider European national positions on internet gambling, something which numerous media reports indicate is already in progress in Portugal, the Netherlands, Ireland, Switzerland, Bosnia, Hungary, Romania, Lithuania and Sweden.