Dublin, Ireland is currently the recipient of over one thousand Norwegian poker players as the Norwegian Championship of poker kicks off in the city. Why Dublin? Norwegian gambling laws do not allow poker to be played and are fairly strict concerning the matter, and so, the Norwegians head aboard instead on a poker filled holiday.
The Norwegian Championship is made up of a series of poker events, which have entry fees ranging from EUR 300 to EUR 2,000 and caters specifically to Norwegian poker players only, although some reports have been made of side-games being available for local poker players.
Norwegian poker rooms are outlawed in their homeland with poker being considered a lottery rather than a skilled game, and so in recent years the tournament has shifted from Latvia to Sweden and England where there are less stern laws or in certain cases no laws at all that prohibit poker tournaments from being played.
JP McCann, who is the tournament director for 2012 recently commented: “we’re hoping over 1,200 Norwegians will come, they won’t all be here for the full duration of it but you’ll certainly have close to 1,000 staying for six days . . . From a tourism point of view it is huge.”
The organizer of the Norwegian Championship, Frode Fagerli, explained a little more on the stern gambling laws in Norway, when he added: “under gaming laws in Norway if you pay to participate and there are prizes and a degree of luck or chance involved, it is a lottery. You’re only really allowed to bet on the national games like the lottery, and then horse races, soccer games and things like that.”
Ireland however, poses no such threat to the Norwegians but that isn’t to see the situation is any brighter there. As a matter of fact, the gambling laws in Ireland are so shaded that the vast majority of Irishmen don’t seem to understand them. Casinos are illegal in the country, though up to fifty sites escape from the law by labeled themselves as private members clubs.
Alan Shatter the minister for justice in Ireland recently expressed his anger at the lack of any governance regarding the issue, whilst David Hickson of Gaming and Leisure of Ireland insists that if gambling was licensed, the issue would be simple enough and nothing would really change.
From a tourist point of view, the Norwegian Championships are an economic success, and for the Norwegians, many of whom can’t even play online poker in Norway, the quick six day trip is a welcome experience both culturally and some will hope, financially!