Online Poker News: PokerStars exits Serbia, stays in Japan; New Winamax desktop client; iGaming in Germany; Poker game consoles; Irish gambling delayed

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

PokerStars exits Serbia, stays in Japan

pokerstars japan
Model Yuiko Matsukawa promoting PokerStars in Japan. Credit:

We have been reporting previously about PokerStars leaving some grey-area markets in Asia. China, Taiwan and Macau so far have been on the list and now a fourth one has been added, though not on the Asian continent.

The country of Serbia has now been exited according to some players’ reports. This could be an indication that more countries in Europe will be removed from the player pool, if they are not regulated. PokerStars left Cyprus earlier in the year, as well as various French overseas territories.

The market withdrawals don’t come to a surprise, at least not to investors, as new PokerStars owners Flutter Entertainment told them in August to expect market exits. They spoke about “a small number of jurisdictions” that had been identified. If this small number is bigger than 4 remains to be seen.

A PokerStars spokesperson had recently talked to PokerIndustryPRO and clarified that Stars had “exited several small markets” since the Flutter acquisition, and that “we’ve exited markets every year, we are always reviewing our regulatory position”.

Japan, which is basically also a grey market, does not seem at risk just as much. Stars doubled down on their commitment to the country with satellites and online tournaments for the Japan Open Poker Tour.

New desktop client for Winamax

Current Winamax desktop client. Credit: Club Poker

One of the most innovative poker sites out there, the leading French operator Winamax, has unveiled a brand-new desktop client.

And whenever Winamax does something new the industry should pay attention. In this case most updates don’t sound innovative as they just mirror what other providers recently have introduced. But it’s still worth mentioning that there has been an introduction of a built-in HUD and a window management system called “Playgrounds”.

There has not been a press release or any kind of public announcement. The new version is simply available in a beta test to some real money players.

The only information that could be found was by poker product manager Aurélien “Guignol” Guiglini on the popular French poker forum Club Poker.

“It’s been ten years since Winamax software for Mac/PC has undergone a complete overhaul, and it was time to do something about it. We’ve been working on brand new software for several months now and I suggest the most curious among you test it out”.

Transition period for iGaming in Germany

The legislation process in Germany is a recurring topic in our news as it’s always a big surprise that this proven poker country has no actual poker regulation (with the exception of one of the 16 states, Schleswig-Holstein).

An agreement has now been reached that the operators are allowed to offer online slots, poker and sports betting, provided they comply with the regulatory framework that will officially come into force from 1st July 2021.

German lawmakers are to permit online casino games in Germany, provided operators comply with the terms of the Glücksspielneuregulierungstaatsvertrag (GlüneuRStV), the regulatory framework due to come into force from 1 July 2021.

From 15th October the operators will be required to comply with the player protection guidelines and addiction prevention measures set out in the GlüNeuRStV. This includes to limit in-play betting markets and a €1 per spin stake limit for online slots.

Something that worried some of the poker players were the €1,000 deposit limits, but now it sounds like it’s a €1,000 monthly spending limit with an option to apply for a raise up to €10,000 per month.

The transition period will give all operators a chance to get their ducks in a row for actual legislation next year. If companies don’t comply they might lose their temporary rights to operate and might be blocked once July 2021 comes around.

A realistic poker experience on game consoles?

It’s been an almost impossible riddle to solve for the online poker providers: How can we get people to play poker on consoles?

So far, poker games have had small roles in some action-filled console games, but an actual fully fledged poker client to be able to play with your friends and maybe others? Not even mentioning real money, of course.

Poker Club will remind some people of the discontinued poker client PKR and it is an attempt to bring poker to the gaming consoles. It looks to focus on the social experience rather than the winning and losing aspects.

The game is supposed to provide a highly realistic experience and “the most immersive and social poker simulation ever”. It will be possible to play across platforms like PlayStation 4 and Xbox.

Ripstone Games’ Phil Gaskell says that “Poker Club is going to be the ultimate poker experience when it launches this year”, and that it won’t just make use of next-gen tech to conquer PC and console gamers but “more importantly, it will offer players a highly immersive social experience.”

“Players can enjoy the fantasy of living the life of a poker pro, touring the incredible locations you might see in TV and films. The in-game clubs and huge range of events combine to create a refreshing new poker experience, bringing players from around the world together and offering more ways to play than ever before on PC and console.”

Irish gambling regulator delayed to 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has delayed many things and as we have reported last week, also the new gaming regulation in the Netherlands. Now we have also been informed that the country of Ireland blames the health crisis for a 18-month delay.

Ireland’s Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has admitted the launch of the country’s new gambling regulator will be delayed until at least 2021.

Ireland’s Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Bill 2019 was signed into law in December 2019 and it already caused grief within the European community when Ireland’s best and biggest poker room, the Fitzwilliam Card Club & Casino had to shut down – this was as much the new Bill as mismanagement, however.

The now closed Fitzwilliam Card Club & Casino in Dublin, Ireland. Credit:

McEntee said the Justice Department is working on the regulator’s creation, but it is not going to be established until next year.

“The Programme for Government, gives a clear commitment to establish a gambling regulator focused on public safety and wellbeing, covering gambling online and in person, and the powers to regulate advertising, gambling websites and apps,” she said.

“Work is currently underway in my department on the development of the legislation to provide for the necessary modern licensing and regulatory provisions for the Irish gambling industry. I hope to bring proposals in that regard to the Government next year.”

McEntee said she wanted to make sure that the regulator was adequately equipped to deal with the gambling industry in Ireland.

“Given the size, complexity and technological development of the modern gambling industry and having regard to the current outdated and complex arrangements, it will be important that the regulator will be established on a strong footing and adequately resourced to carry out this important task,” McEntee said.