From December 17th, 2020, players from a dozen “grey markets” will no longer be able to play on partyoker.
Entain, the newly rebranded face of GVC and partyoker’s parent company are attempting to pull their ships around to the new regulatory winds in big markets like the U.S. and U.K. As part of this move, partyoker announced that it will be pulling out of twelve unregulated markets
These “grey markets” markets include the European markets of Poland, Norway, and Montenegro.
Even as we all breathe a sigh of relief at not having to tackle the inordinately strong Norwegian player pool, we have to wonder at what impact this will have on the game in general.
Partypoker is reassuring in their marketing chatter regarding the pullout. According to Colette Steward, unregulated markets only generate about 4% of Entain’s revenue.
Players from the twelve targeted jurisdictions were contacted to say that from December 1st they would no longer be able to deposit. From the 17th December they will no longer be able to play. And they have until the 25th to fully cashout.
Any loyalty points or tournament tickets will be lost to the ether. They will not be part of the player’s cashout package.
What is a “Grey Market”?
Online poker markets fall into three main categories. Some nations like the United Kingdom have established laws on the books that allow and regulate online gambling. These nations also tend to have dedicated regulatory agencies which partypoker wants to impress.
Other jurisdictions have a clean-and-clear ban on online gambling. Japan for instance, does not allow online gambling from within its borders. Korea will even prosecute its own citizens for gambling when they’re overseas.
Those markets are nice and simple.
“Grey area” markets, on the other hand, fall between these two camps. In some of these markets, online poker is technically illegal, but law enforcement just isn’t interested in chasing violators. This was the case in Germany until recently.
In other “gray market” jurisdictions, online poker is technically legal. But the law fails to address it directly, and so the regulations are unclear and regulators non-existent. A good example of this, is most of the U.S states.
Compliance and the poker landscape
The hot topic on Entain’s mind, is “compliance”. In many countries where online poker is regulated, governments are looking at it less as an issue of vice and more an issue of international finance.
The abbreviations KYC (Know Your Client), AML (Anti-Money Laundering), and CFT (Combating the Financing of Terrorism) are becoming as well known to card sharks as they are to offshore trust administrators and hedge fund managers.
The U.S. with its F.A.T.C.A. laws lead the way in this, and because the dollar is vital to almost every economy on the planet. Everyone else has overhauled their finance systems to keep in line with it. In response, we’ve seen the PokerStars branded baize yanked out from under the greater Chinese area and Taiwan.
Now that Party has followed suit we can probably expect this to be a trend. GGPoker could sweep in to grab market share in these grey markets the way they have in the East. But that remains to be seen.
Image source: Flickr