Around 15 Norwegian poker players were robbed at gunpoint at a private poker game held at Stromstad in Sweden early on the morning of August 22, Friday.
Reportedly, four men wearing masks and holding guns barged into Hogdal Bygdegard, a farmhouse where the poker game was being held. They then forced the players to sit on the floor while they robbed them of all their money. They then fled the scene and the Norwegian border control and police are still trying to trace them.
According to the Swedish police, the men were trying to make some “easy money.” Tore Lomgard, who heads the investigation team at Stromstad, told Swedish reporters that the criminals obviously knew that a real money poker game was being played and decided to grab some quick cash.
One might wonder why a group of Norwegian players travelled all the way to Sweden to play real money poker. Currently, playing real money poker games is illegal in Norway. Even Norway’s top live poker event, the Norwegian Poker Championship, is held in foreign countries. In fact, Ireland has been hosting this event for the past few years. Norwegian poker players have no choice but to play poker on the sly in their own country or go all the way to neighboring Sweden, which allows them to play real money poker games legally.
Since Norway has not legalized real money poker games, poker players have no protection from both the Norwegian police as well as the criminals. However, playing in Sweden is not that safe either as players can become easy target for criminals who are aware that they are carrying a lot of cash.
The situation is bound to change soon as the Ministry of Culture of Norway has proposed the legalization of small live poker events and home games. It has also suggested that the Norwegian Poker Championship should be held in Norway. Accordingly, the country’s regulatory body plans to permit home games with a maximum of 10 players and a maximum buy-in of $81 (500 Norwegian Kroner). If this happens, Norwegian players can play real money poker legally in their own country. They will also be saved the trouble of travelling all the way to Ireland to take part in the Norwegian Poker Championship.
On the downside, high-stakes players will still continue to travel outside Norway to play high-stakes poker games because of the cap placed on buy-in and player field.