PokerStars Starts Withdrawal From Grey MarketsOctober 2, 2014 3:53 pm
PokerStars and Full Tilt have announced they will be pulling their operations from a number of so-called “grey markets,” in a move likely necessitated by its pending application for a gambling license in the UK market. Interestingly, the brands exit does not seem to affect all grey market areas, and appears focused on a number of countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, including Bangladesh, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Malaysia, Nigeria, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.
Following announcement of the news, PokerStars issued a statement encouraging players to cash out “at their convenience,” and to make the most of their tournament tickets and Frequent Player Points (FPPs) before withdrawing their funds.
According to the new UK Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act expected to go into effect next month, any company applying for a remote gambling license should not derive more than 3% of its revenues from unlicensed markets. The UK iGaming markets is one of the biggest in the world generating £2.5 billion ($4.26bn) in annual revenues, with £329 million ($559m) of that tally originating from online poker. Therefore, with UK authorities demanding applicants above the 3% threshold first justify their continued operations in grey areas, PokerStars and Full Tilt probably thought it was a safer option to withdraw from these unlicensed jurisdictions. As a PokerStars statement made to Pokerfuse this week, explains:
“Our management team and advisors regularly review our operations market-by-market to assess commercial opportunities and business risks for our brands. Following a recent review we have decided to stop offering real money games to players who are physically located in, or have a registered address in, a limited number of countries.”
One notable country missing from the list, however, was Canada, and while other big operators such as Ladbrokes, Matchbook, EuroPartners and Betfred have exited the Canadian market in recent times, PokerStars has previously stated it remains committed to remaining in the country of 35 million people. Furthermore, Amaya Gaming, the parent company of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, is a Canadian company with a listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange.