Online gaming and gambling giants Poker Stars and Full Tilt have announced plans to withdraw from various markets. The decision to revoke services from various national markets comes from a review of both business risks and threats to new business or commercial opportunities.
A formal statement has been issued to Pokerfuse.com, however neither brand chose to specify which markets it would be withdrawing from. According to reports, it’s suggested that both Poker Stars and Full Tilt will be withdrawing from Turkey, Nigeria, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Iran.
Operations are to end in these so-called ‘gray markets,’ in both Amaya Gaming owned sites, in a move which may have come as a response to the imminent upcoming changes in regulation and gambling licenses in the UK.
The statement issues also sited their regular operation reviews as a factor for pulling out of the ‘gray markets.’ Their reviews are conducted with the help of independent 3rd party professionals and are conducted on a market-by-market basis, meaning that any country and market could be subject to withdrawal after significant reviewing. The statement also said that this review specifically determined that it wouldn’t be possible for Poker Stars to offer real money games in these countries.
‘Gray markets’ is the term used to describe jurisdictions where online gambling is not considered illegal, with no prohibitions against it, but where there is also no direct licensing or regulatory procedures in place to control the market. This means that operators can run into problems regarding the legal designations, within such an unclear environment.
As the UK is introducing new gambling laws under the UK Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act, this could prove a problem for Full Tilt, Poker Stars and any other poker brands with operations in gray markets. In order to be granted a gambling license in the UK, any companies with significant operations in the gray market countries must be able to justify their presence in that territory legally. Whereas before there was no reason to withdraw from these markets unless their governments threatened any legal action, this UK law gives companies reason to reconsider operations in certain countries, which may have caused Amaya Gaming to pull out of various markets.
Although the exact number and names of countries is yet to be determined, it is reported that nations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East are most likely to be affected, though there may be one or two exceptions to this.
One nation considered a gray market which will not be affected is Canada. A statement from Amaya has confirmed that they are committed to the Canadian market, despite several other big companies such as Ladbrokes announcing they would no longer offer online poker, or in some cases any online gaming services in Canada. Amaya’s commitment to the country is clear in that their current plan includes seeking a path to gain licensing in Quebec, in a bid to continue gaming from both Full Tilt and Poker Stars in the country.
There are also rumours that Amaya Gaming is planning a return to the United States. The potential return is reported to take place as soon as the end of the year in New Jersey at least. It’s unclear whether this return will be linked to the decision to withdraw from other gray markets.
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