PokerStars completes exit from Norway online-poker market

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Online poker giant PokerStars has completed the departure from Norway’s online-poker market that the site announced earlier this month in an email to its Norwegian players. Citing “commercial reasons” while also being under duress from Norwegian regulators over allegedly illegal offerings, the Flutter-owned Stars turned off its services to the country on Thursday, October 26.

PokerStars had notified its Norwegian players roughly two weeks earlier of the impending shutdown. The heart of the email, translated into English, offered the following:

“Following a recent review, residents from Norway will not be able to access our platform from October 26, 2023. Your player balance remains safe and secure, and you may withdraw your funds at any time. All entries to poker tournaments that have yet to start will be refunded. Non-promotional rewards will be converted into cash and added to your balance.”

Lottstift warning preceded departure

PokerStars joins a long list of operators who have departed Norway, which is increasing becoming a firewalled jurisdiction. Last month, Lottstift, Norway’s gambling regulatory authority, annouced its intent to pursue all unlicensed operators, ordering them to cease services directed toward Norwegians or face stiff fines.

Stars was not among a handful of specifically named companies warned by Lottstoft over various online-gambling offerings, Several of 15 other sites named by Lottstift, including bet365, Kindred, ComeOn, and Betsson, heeded the regulatory warning and exited the Norwegian market last month.

Lottstift also declared that new parliamentary decrees gave it the authority to order the country’s internet service providers to blacklist the domains of online-gambling providers deemed to be offering unregulated services to Norway’s gamblers.

Norway is similar to Australia in that, at the present time, there is no formal regulatory scheme in place for online poker, and many of the country’s best players have relocated to other jurisdictions. Even live poker is frowned upon as a pastime which Lottstift declares on its site as being “generally not permitted.” Online-casino and sports-betting action in the country is officially offered by the state-affiliated Norsk Tipping AS.

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