Last month it was announced PokerStars was considering the purchase of Full Tilt Poker as part of a wider deal to settle their own affairs with the U.S. Justice Department. Although details have remained sketchy, $750 million was suggested by Chilipoker CEO Alexandre Dreyfus, as a possible figure for the purchase which would include full settlement with the DOJ, as well as the return of around $330 million in players’ balances.
That unsubstantiated rumour might now seem even more ethereal after the Spanish government’s recent insistence that online companies wishing to obtain a gambling license in their country would now have to pay millions of euros in back taxes. Already, bwin.party has agreed to fork out €33.6 million in order to satisfy the Spanish government’s demands, while yesterday Sportingbet, too, said they would pay €17.2 million for their Spanish operation between January 2009 and May 2012.
However, these huge sums pale in comparison compared to what PokerStars may have to pay in order to stay in Spain, which has a lucrative online gambling market predicted to be worth €800 million by 2014. As G-poker spokesman Jeremy Taylor explains:
“PokerStars is estimated to owe $257 million in back taxes. That’s a huge sum of money, especially now that PokerStars is allegedly in negotiations with the Department of Justice to acquire Full Tilt Poker and repay former Full Tilt players. The question is, with this unplanned financial burden, can PokerStars proceed with its alleged plans to buy Full Tilt Poker?”
Being the world’s largest online poker room does come with some major advantages, though. In 2010, for instance, PokerStars generated $1.4 billion in gross revenues amounting to $500 million in annual profits or $1.37 million dollars per day.
Nevertheless, the more than $1 billion allegedly requested by the US DoJ, as well as the Spanish government may prove a step to far for the online poker monolith. With the Spanish government expected to start issuing licenses after June 1st, we’ll try to keep you updated on any developments to this story as they occur.