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Saturday, January 19th, 2008

Poker Finn-ished?

Written by Tom Somach in Poker News

Online poker may soon be banned in Finland.

According to Helsingin Sanomat, a Finnish newspaper, the Finnish government’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is planning to introduce an amendment to the local gamblings laws that would enable Internet poker players to claim back their losses. =A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 The payer would be either the firm providing the online poker services, a credit card company or the winning player in the poker game, the newspaper reported.

The Ministry believes that the amendment will mean foreign companies running Internet poker rooms will likely prevent Finnish players from ever taking part in the game, since players protected by such a law would be too great a risk to the game organizers, the newspaper reported.

The Ministry wants the amendment to protect gambling addicts and children from the “dangers” of online poker, the newspaper reported.

Kalle Maatta, a professor of law and economics at the University of Joensuu in Finland who helped government officials craft the amendment, told the newspaper, “Such a law does not yet exist anywhere in the world.

“The idea of the law is not to force citizens to put shackles on their gambling, but merely to provide them with the opportunity to claim back the losses that they may have augmented, say, while playing online poker when drunk,” he said.

Ministry officials have yet to specify exactly how such legislation would be enforced, however, the newspaper reported.

According to statistics the newspaper provided, Finns lost 150 million euros–more than $150 million–last year playing online poker, making the small Scandanavian nation the fourth-biggest losers in the world at online poker, on a per capita basis.

In addition, Finland has about 40,000 gambling addicts, the same amount as in the Netherlands, even though the Netherlands has triple the population of Finland, the newspaper reported.

(E-mail Tom Somach at [email protected])

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