With there being no real secret to the agenda regarding the world’s most (in)famous online poker brand’s desire to relaunch in several legitimate online gambling markets, namely the UK and US, PokerStars has begun to remove itself from questionable markets that may prohibit it from becoming part of the UK and US iGaming regimes.
The markets affected by this new move are of relative obscurity, including a handful of countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. These areas of the world have casinos online, but are considered to be grey markets, and thus, not as reputable as markets like that of the UK.
After it was announced that PokerStars would be asking players to close accounts in countries such as Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Nigeria Malaysia, and Turkey, executives at the company issued a statement asking that existing players in these markets cash out and close their accounts “at their convenience,” and to take advantage of any upcoming tournament entries and Frequent Player Points before making a final withdrawal. This new move out of unsavory markets for PokerStars is an important one that comes at a crucial juncture in the UK market, as the impending UK Gambling Act (Licensing and Advertising) expected to go into effect next month requires that any online operator intending to seek a remote gambling license does not receive more than 3% of its gaming revenues from unlicensed markets.
The UK casino market online is one of the largest and most lucrative in the world, generating about £2.5 billion ($4.26 billion US) in yearly revenue, with £329 million ($559 million US) of that income generated by online poker. Needless to say, this is the online poker market to go after for PokerStars.
Amaya Gaming purchased PokerStars months back with the plan to give the brand a new image and draw attention aways from its rocky beginnings of taking wagers from illegal markets in the past. The US market was very lucrative for the online poker giant until the Department of Justice targeted its operations, charging the brand with unlawful dealings i.e. taking real money wagers from US players.
PokerStars is undisputedly the largest online poker hub in the world, with a player pool unrivaled. Since Amaya bought the company, it has launched a full-fledged marketing campaign to make the poker site legitimate in the eyes of major regulated markets. With the UK market a big possibility – and very soon at that – industry insiders are speculating as to whether the PokerStars name will make its way back into the US market now that Amaya, one of the most highly respected casino operators in the world, has taken the reigns.
One notable country that PokerStars did not remove itself from in this new announcement was Canada, where several well-known operators such as Betfred, Ladbrokes, Matchbook, and EuroPartners have recently stopped taking wagers. Since Amaya is a Canadian company with a listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange, this should come as no surprise that the two top poker brands are staying put in Canada.