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Scandinavian News

by Ola Brandborn |  Published: Jun 01, 2007

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Springtime for championships in Scandinavia
It's been an eventful spring, with lots of tournaments throughout Europe. As a journalist, I've travelled a lot and done a lot of reporting from the tours, and I've clearly seen the high entry fees take their toll on some players' wallets. But that's not the only reason that the European Poker Tour event in Monte Carlo was ignored by so many Scandinavians. The way our tax laws are written, poker winnings within the EU are practically tax free, while poker winnings outside of the EU are to be taxed 30 percent (with no possibility of deducting expenditures or the entry fee). Since Monaco isn't part of the EU, the tournament loses a lot of its value to people in Scandinavia.

The spring tournament season will end shortly, with a number of Nordic championships. At the time of this writing, the Swedish championships are about to be played. The tournament is held in Tallinn, Estonia, as having it in Sweden is prohibited by law. At the same time, the Norwegian championships are held at the Casino Cosmopol in Gothenburg - owned by the Swedish state - also for legal reasons. It's a lot of politics, and a lot of trouble for us, the players … we only want to play some cards! Finally, the semiautonomic island region of Åland, situated between Sweden and Finland, is having its Ålandish championships. That's usually a very nice and well-organized event.

The Norwegians also wanted to hold a ladies-only event during their championships, a nice initiative that seemed to get a lot of Norwegian girls to step out of their computer anonymity. But, that wasn't possible, because of the politicians involved; a ladies-only event at the Casino Cosmopol was deemed sexual discrimination, so the casino couldn't prevent men from entering the ladies-only event! The organizers, upon learning that a Swedish man might become the Norwegian lady champion, wisely cancelled the tournament.

Busted
So, how many policemen do you need to stop a semi-illegal poker tournament in Sweden? Three? 10? No, at least 50! These 50 policemen left the city of Uddewalla and travelled 70 kilometers (45 miles) to Grebbestad, in order to stop a live event with 682 players. It's not illegal to play poker in Sweden, but it's illegal to organize tournaments and cash games. Nobody really cares about the law, but the Swedish Gaming Board decided that enough was enough when the evening papers started to cover the events. The policemen who were there said that they were ashamed to be forced to uphold such a law. The organizers will be prosecuted for breaking the gambling laws, despite another organizer winning such a case against the state only a month ago. That was about a much smaller event, though. The tournament in Grebbestad was cancelled, and the competitors are to get their entry fees back.

Police are attacking Danish and Norwegian poker clubs, too. The very latest incident happened in Denmark, where the former chairperson of the Hobro Kortklub was fined €500 for holding poker tournaments with €20 buy-ins. This time, it was the Danish Casino Federation, representing the six Danish casinos, that reported the crime to the police, in total reporting 12 clubs. Hobro was the first victim, but I'm afraid there's more to come.

Ola Brandborn is a blogger and writer for Poker.se.