Online Poker News: partypoker announces Russian client and 2021 WPT festival dates; Curacao gambling licenses changes

In this column, we deliver you the latest and most interesting online poker industry news from across the world and all platforms.

GVC/Entain aims for 99% regulation, launches Russian partypoker client


As reported in last week’s Online Poker News partypoker mothership GVC Holdings plc (soon to be rebranded to Entain) is committing to achieve 99% regulation by the end of the year.

GVC claims that 96% of the markets they are offering their services are regulated and that they will close the gap to 99% by the end of 2020. This means that they are planning to exit all non-regulated markets within three years in order to guarantee 100% of revenue coming from nationally regulated markets by 2023.

It is being speculated that Poland and Norway will be two of the larger markets that partypoker and other GVC brands will exit next month. When it comes to the massive gray-area poker market in Russia, however, GVC is doubling down.

A dedicated partypoker client for Russian players has been launched – partypoker Sochi – which has been “inspired” by the PokerStars equivalent that launched two years ago.

In addition to this partypoker announced a continuation of the collaboration with the World Poker Tour in 2021 with several live events on Russian soil.


WPT and partypoker LIVE announce 2021 festival dates

World Poker tour

The World Poker Tour and partypoker LIVE have released the dates for the first WPT Festivals of the 2021 season and as expected, live events are scarce for the time being.

When it comes to live poker, they limit themselves for now to two events at Casino Sochi. WPT Russia will take place from 19th to 28th February 2021 and qualifying for the Main Event is already possible. WPTDeepStacks Russia will take place in July.

Most of the events have been announced for the online realm for now starting with WPT Montreal in January, WPT500 Online in March, WPT Online Series in May and the WPT World Online Championships in September.

Tom Waters, Managing Director of partypoker, says: “Although we are uncertain about live events, we can promise players numerous WPT festivals in 2021. We look forward to working with the WPT team to create the highest quality schedules, both live and online”.

Curacao gambling licenses changes in 2021

800px Curacao flag 36530511312

We often just think of the Isle of Man, Malta and some British governing bodies famous for handing out online gambling licences. But what about Curacao, a constituent country on the Caribbean island of the same name that belongs to the Kingdom of the Netherlands?

Curacao is one of the oldest and most popular iGaming licensing locations in the world, with over 450 licensed online casinos. It is one of the most cost-effective licenses, with low renewal fees, and no gaming taxes like in other jurisdictions. The application process is straightforward and can be completed in a few weeks. Cryptocurrencies are permitted methods of payment for compliant operators.

Now, for reasons unknown, the Dutch government linked the payment of financial support to Curacao in the pandemic context with the need to reform the online gambling licensing process.

Deputy Minister of the Interior of the Netherlands Raymond Knops’s main provisions were published in the Curacao Chronicle:

• To prepare by March 1, 2021, a package of bills on an independent regulatory state body to control online gambling, with the power to revoke any licenses.

• Eliminate theMain Licensees” program, leveling all private entities’ rights and obligations holding a Curacao license.

• Modify the payment of all taxes and fees directly, regardless of the operator’s place of registration (now many sub-licensees hardly pay taxes because, for example, they work through Cyprus).

Currently, GGPoker, TigerGaming, PokerKing, RedStar Poker, and dozens of small rooms hold Curacao licenses. What do these upcoming changes mean for them?

Sites with a Curacao license in countries that have already regulated the gambling market will have to request a local license or leave such countries. The restriction may apply only to EU countries. The rule will also apply to countries in which online poker is treated differently like China (complete ban).

This news illustrates the continuous changes in online gambling regulation across the globe, but in Europe in particular. We are witnessing a crucial time for online gambling and we’ll only be able to see where operators and players stand once the dust settles.