Norwegians love gambling for money, and the rise of online casinos gave them just what they needed. But why is online poker the most popular online casino game in Norway?

Last Updated on June 8, 2022 by Dave Hall

Online Poker Norway

Norwegians love gambling for money, and the rise of online casinos gave them just what they needed. But why is online poker the most popular online casino game in Norway? Well, many factors have contributed to the game’s popularity in Norway.

Among those factors are the history of gambling and gambling legislation in Norway.

Gambling in Norway

Norway has strict gambling laws when compared to other countries. And the fact that it isn’t a member of the EU, means players can’t always rely on EU law to access foreign online casinos. However, that doesn’t mean that online casinos are entirely banned in Norway.

You can access online casinos such as Poker in Norway legally, if you choose to play on Norsk Tipping online casinos. You can also access foreign casinos from Norway, if you can find ways to fund your online casino account.

As of now, Norwegian banks and card issuers cannot legally process online casino payments for foreign casinos. The exception is if the payments are for an online casino website owned by a licensed Norwegian casino.

In 2015, the Norwegian government legalized online Poker, on condition that players access it from licensed Norwegian online casinos.

In that regard, the Norwegian government created a monopoly. There are over 30 licensed online casino websites, but they all belong to either Norsk Tipping or Norsk Rikstoto.

The Norwegian government owns the two companies, and ensures they strictly follow current Norwegian laws on gambling.

Norsk Rikstoto specializes in sports betting and lotteries, while Norsk Tipping specializes in Lotteries and online casino games. They all have websites that you can register, before you can view their games. And as you can expect, they are set up to prevent problem gambling.

Online Casino Games in Norway

While it’s illegal to access foreign online casinos, players in Norway are able to do it anyway. This is possible because of online mobile wallets, and decentralized means of payment such as Bitcoin.

All a player has to do is find an online casino for Norway that’s licensed in another country, and accepts Bitcoin, PayPal, or Google Pay Send. Many of the online casinos are licensed in Malta, UK, and now the US. That assures Norwegian players of getting their winnings, if they play and win.

The high licensing fees that profitable online casinos pay, incentivize licensing authorities to protect players. It also gives their license credibility, when players review their licensed casinos positively. That happens when players launch a claim, and get a fair settlement or arbitration.

The strict gambling laws against online casinos games, has led to a strong growth in popularity of online casinos. Especially when you consider it’s quite easy to access foreign online casinos, and play and win real money.

To cap it all, the great poker skills and multi-million winnings by Norwegian players, have promoted online casinos greatly.

It also helps that poker rules are easier to learn, and makes it possible for anyone to win big in poker. Unlike slots, you don’t need specialized equipment or software to play poker. That has made poker popular in Norway and other countries, irrespective of its legal status.

Notable Norwegian Online Poker Players

Norwegian poker players have contributed to the game’s popularity in Norway. They have shown great poker skills and luck, with millions in poker winnings as proof of it. Those players are Felix Vincent Stephensen, Preben Stokkan, Annette Obrestad, Thor Hansen, and Johnny Lodden.

Johnny Lodden

Lodden has won over $2.8 million in Poker winnings, with his biggest win being just over $610,000. He won it after coming third in the 2013 EPT Main Event in Monte Carlo. Two years later, after coming fourth in the same event, he won $425,000.

He is become popular thanks to the game “Lodden Thinks.” In the game, two players bet on what a third player’s answer to a question will be. Phil Laak and Antonio Esfandiari invented the game during the World Series of Poker Europe.

Lodden was the third player, which the two players were placing bets on, to pass their time between Poker hands in the World Series.

Thor Hansen

The late Thor Hansen lived through the 1990s, during which  he electrified poker fans with his poker skills. At one point in the mid-1990s, Larry Flint recruited him, after he beat him in a poker tournament in Las Vegas.

He won over $3million during his poker career, and he proved skillful in Limit and No-Limit Texas Hold’em poker, and Seven-Card Stud poker.

He is remembered for his two World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet, 46 ITM finishes, four WPT ITM finishes, and two money finishes on the EPT.

Annette Obrestad

A few months after she turned 18, Annete made a name for herself after she won close to $1 million within a few months. That proved Poker was popular even among the underage in Norway, though it had been illegal to play it online.

But her biggest moment came in 2007 when she walked away with $2 million, after she won the World Series of Poker in Europe.

Then she surprised many by winning several online tournaments, without looking at her hands. Instead, she relied on her knowledge of poker positions.

Preben Stokkan

Preben Stokkan has so far won over $2.2 million, with the most notable winning being the 50th annual World Series of Poker Main Event. He finished 21st overall, which was enough to net him $324,000 and 160 GPI points.

His other worthy winnings were the Norwegian Poker National Championships in 2016 and the Live Caribbean Party in 2017. Thanks to his achievements, he won the GPI National Player of the Year for 2018 and 2019.

Felix Vincent Stephensen

At the time of writing this, Felix Stephensen has the most Poker winnings in Norway. He has amassed over $5.8 million in winnings from poker tournaments. Interestingly, most of that money came from winning in the 2014 World Series of Poker Main, where he came second.

The second position netted him a cool $5.1 million. Though he hasn’t had another million dollar win since, he has managed to get numerous smaller wins, amounting to over $700,000.

The winnings include the Norwegian Championship Nationals Main Event in 2015 and the Turbo 8-Handed event in 2016, in Barcelona. Other notable winnings include four money finishes in the European Poker Tour, and three cashes in World Series of Poker.

Conclusion – Online Poker Popularity in Norway

The winnings from those players are enough to inspire many Norwegians to keep playing poker. Poker is now seen as a game of chance, skill, and talent. And since one doesn’t need years of experience to win it, it has now become attractive to Norwegians of all ages.

Overall, the past strict laws on online casinos did little to slow the growth and popularity of poker in Norway. If anything, it appears they just made Norwegians more curious about online casinos in general. For now, there are virtually no cases of problematic online gaming in Norway.

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Dave is a gambling enthusiast who boasts of two decades of experience. His writings not only unravel the intricacies of online casino games but also explore the psychology behind betting. Dave's commitment to responsible gambling shines through, making every wager a mindful choice for players seeking a thrilling yet balanced gaming experience.