In this column we deliver you the latest and most interesting online poker industry news from across the world and all platforms.
GGPoker gets approval for Pennsylvania
It took a bit over a year for the approval process to go through, but on 10th February it was decided that GGPoker’s parent company NSUS Group will be granted an online gaming manufacturer license for Pennsylvania.
NSUS will therefore be allowed to offer online poker and online casino games in Pennsylvania. Before the company can launch online poker they will need to make an agreement with a land-based casino in the state.
So, this means, even with the license, a launch for GGPoker PA might still be taking a bit of time.
Nevertheless, with GGPoker stepping into the U.S. market the cards will be shuffled once more and GGPoker can prove their value to the U.S. poker players that so far only heard about the online poker phenomenon from afar.
You can watch the PGCB meeting from Wednesday 10th February on YouTube:
PokerStars makes a statement in Michigan
It did not take long for the world’s biggest poker site PokerStars to make a clear statement in their new market of Michigan and at the same time in the whole of the United States online poker market.
The poker giant averaged 410 concurrent cash game players in its first week and so overtook PokerStars PA and WSOP/888 as the largest regulated online poker room in the United States.
Michigan is a segregated market and so far players in the state can only play against other players in Michigan. There is hope for a connection with the U.S. interstate treaty, however, and it’s probably only a matter of time.
But PokerStars did not finish here to show clearly who’s the boss. MICOOP was announced less than two weeks after the launch of PokerStars MI and might be going to break records as well.
The tournament series will start on 20th February and run over two weeks. $1 million are guaranteed over 60 events with buy-ins from $10 to $500. The Main Event has a $300 buy-in and $125,000 GTD.
PokerStars is not messing around and it will be exciting to see how big the Michigan market can grow with their help.
Tax returns for poker pros in the Netherlands
The Netherlands considers poker a form of gambling and players need to pay a gambling tax on winnings. In 2015 the Dutch Supreme Court ruled that players are exempt from these taxes, if the poker sites are established within the EU.
PokerStars’ licence is, or was, based in the Isle of Man, but the site where Dutch players played on was PokerStars.eu which holds a licence in Malta. This means that many individual poker players would have fought for their taxes to be returned, instead the Dutch tax agency offered a settlement agreement to reimburse all paid taxes over poker winnings on Stars from the past nine years.
partypoker introduces MyGame Whiz
— partypoker (@partypoker) February 4, 2021
MyGame Whiz is a tool that is available inside the partypoker client and functions as a real-time coach. It analyses hands and evaluates play according to GTO. This way players and plays in different game categories will be ranked from rookie to elite pro.
The tool is supposed to help beginners to improve their game right from the get-go, not just through the analysis part, but also with integrated poker courses.
Poker operators react to UK black market
We reported about the danger in the German online poker market that players, should the taxation go ahead, will move into the underground and play on unsafer unregulated sites.
It seems like just this is happening in the UK already. According to the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) the black market activity is growing with players trying to avoid strict regulations on the licenced sites.
The amount of money staked with unlicensed operators increased from £1.4 billion ($1.9 billion) to £2.8 billion compared to 2019. The number of players using underground sites more than doubled.
Those sites that are holding licenses are now calling for action. After all they are the ones obeying the rules and are losing profit this way. Licensing is supposed to regulate a market, create benefits for the governing bodies and also protect the players. If players are more comfortable playing on unregulated sites, none of this makes sense anymore.
William Hill CEO Ulrik Bengtsson said: “Here at William Hill, we have long been concerned by the black market in gambling and the threat it poses to customers. Our view of the gambling black market is it’s a growing problem that we must confront.”
PokerStars parent company Flutter Entertainment added: “The report on the growth of the black market published by PwC today, is an important reminder of the complex challenges operators, Government and other stakeholders must address to ensure that the review of gambling regulation delivers genuine improvements in customer protection, rather than cosmetic change which might inadvertently open the door to greater unlicensed participation in the UK market.”
Hopefully Germany and other countries that are looking to regulate are having an eye on this as it should teach them better ways to regulate and restrict offerings in their markets.
China gives an ultimatum to gambling hosts
Chinese people are known worldwide as people that enjoy gambling. But they usually do so abroad as China is not allowing gambling inside the country. About 11 million Chinese do play over the internet, however, with an estimated market of $150 billion.
Now China is once again working strongly to keep online gambling at bay. For operators this means facilitating the operation of foreign gambling providers can result in up to 10 years in prison.
In addition to that an ultimatum has now been set for 30th April for individuals that have been involved in cross-border gambling to turn themselves in. Those that do this will face less strict punishments, for example, just a warning. But if individuals will not turn themselves in and are found out to have been involved in illegal gambling will face severe consequences.
And although this sounds very scary the online poker world does not seem to be concerned that they will not be able to play against Chinese players anymore. It is expected that new agents and operators will find ways to still offer online poker to Chinese citizens and that they will be likely to keep playing.