PokerStars Pulls Out Of Israeli Gray Market

On Monday, June 27, PokerStars officially ceased offering real-money poker games in Israel, with the operator reassuring its customers that their balances would remain safe and ready for withdrawal “at their convenience”. The move is believed to be a response to the country’s financial institutions beginning to clamp down on online gambling transactions taking place within Israel’s gray online gambling market, with the PokerStars email sent out to its customers reading:
“Our management team regularly reviews our operations market-by-market to assess commercial opportunities and business risks for our brands. Following a recent review, we regret to inform you that we have decided to stop offering real money games to players who are physically located in, or have a registered address in, Israel [as of] June 27, 2016.”
While Israel runs a national lottery, and allows betting to take place on sports and horseracing events, only the country’s Sports Betting Board is permitted to offer limited wagering online. Despite being one of the world’s most restrictive online gambling markets, though, many of the industry’s chief pioneers hale from Israel, including Playtech, 888, and PokerStars, and many of them continue to base their businesses in the country.
While Israel has a small population of just over 8 million people, the size of its gambling community is large in comparison to its size, and the move by PokerStars to withdraw its real money product from Israel is likely to affect a fair number of people, including high stakes players such as Nir levy of the Israeli Poker Academy. In the meantime, the site has reassured its customers that their current VIP Step points will be converted into cash, with its customer email concluding:
“We apologize for this inconvenience and hope you’ve enjoyed your experience; we invite you to continue playing with your existing account on our play money site here.”

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