Real-money tables at PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker are no longer an option in over 30 countries as of October 1st, 2014. Amaya Gaming's decision to put an end to PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker operations in certain areas is part of a new policy adopted by the company that has chosen not to offer real-money gaming in jurisdictions where the gambling industry is not explicitly regulated. Those jurisdictions are known as "gray markets" and poker players that were happily grinding along on them on the world's two largest online poker sites are now left without a home.
The decision to withdraw from those countries brings up the question of what other countries will be affected by the decision — main point of interest is Canada where Amaya Gaming is based and online poker is not regulated.
With the Oldford Group Limited acquisition by the Amaya Gaming Group, changes have already been on the table at PokerStars and Full Tilt. Some of those changes introduced the new PokerStars 7 client and included roulette and blackjack casino games at PokerStars.es.
Amaya CEO David Baazov has said the company's plans include using both PokerStars and Full Tilt to gain access to new vertical markets such as casino and the sports betting.
Real-money games have been closed by both online poker sites in Malaysia, Turkey, UAE, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Egypt, Qatar, Jordan, Kuwait, Senegal, Nigeria, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Palestinian Territories, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda and the Vatican. Other countries that no longer have access to PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker tables are Iran, Iraq, Syria, Zimbabwe, Libya, Sudan, North Korea, Cuba, Myanmar and Yemen.
When players accessed the poker clients from the affected countries, they received a pop-up message: "Our management team and advisors regularly review our operations market-by-market to assess commercial opportunities and business risks for our brands. Following a recent review we have decided to stop offering real money games to players who are physically located in, or have a registered address in, a limited number of countries."
The players from the affected countries will still be able to log in and withdraw their available funds on PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. Amaya Gaming's stock dropped nearly 3 percent at the Toronto Stock Exchange to CAD $28.51 before it moved back up to CAD $30 after the news on existing gray markets was announced.
Image courtesy of PokerStars.com