PokerStars Has Now Exited Multiple Asian Markets To Stay Complaint
PokerStars is leaving China, Taiwan, and Macau as its parent company Flutter Entertainment aims to make its entire gaming operations more compliant. The three markets currently prohibit online real-money poker, with China enforcing a crackdown on cross-border illegal gambling.
Flutter, which also owns Paddy Power Betfair and FanDuel, completed its acquisition of The Stars Group (TSG) in May 2020 under a massive $12.2 billion mega merger.
News of PokerStars exiting the Asian market follows a recent announcement by Flutter that it would enforce a tighter control over TSG and would switch off markets not meeting its compliance standards.
Details of the secret departure went public after a screenshot of a message allegedly from Stars Support was shared on the 2+2 online poker forum.
The message notified a customer that PokerStars would terminate its operations in China, Taiwan and Macau effective September 1. In order to facilitate withdrawals, the company offered alternative options such as Neteller and Skrill for players based in Taiwan. The minimum amount available for wire transfers was also lowered.
Flutter Switches Off Black Markets
Flutter’s decision to “switch off” its operations in black markets falls in line with their aim of enhancing the quality of TSG’s safer gambling practices. PokerStars’ exit from China, Taiwan, and Macau will incur losses of about £65m each year for Flutter, but it appears the company is willing to pay that price to avoid potential regulatory setback in the future, especially as it looks to strengthen its operations in the United States and other essential territories.
Over the years, PokerStars has served customers in jurisdictions that prohibit online gambling, such as Russia. In fact, 131 domains related to PokerStars are currently included in the country’s official online blacklist, with two of them being recently added. The country has been clamping down on illegal sites serving domestic players, with its communications watchdog Roskomnadzor blocking several gambling sites that offer unauthorized material.
Russia has also been ramping up its efforts to disrupt online gambling payment processing. Chinese authorities have also been doing the same thing. Flutter had already stopped serving Russian players since May.
There has been no official statement yet from PokerStars or Flutter regarding the reported exit, though it’s understood more details will surface soon. In an earnings call last week, the numbers reported for the online poker site was positive, mainly due to the recent surge in online traffic caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.