Bwin, the world’s leading online bookie and fourth largest online poker operator (PartyPoker) has announced an impending exit from 18 European and South American markets.
The company has been accepting players from many countries regardless of local regulations, which caused it to be involved in several conflicts with various national authorities over the years. This even led to the arrest of its top executives while visiting France and Belgium.
Although Bwin holds licenses that allow it to operate under British gambling laws (as well as being granted an Italian license more recently), there are many other jurisdictions around the world where a local license is required to conduct legitimate business.
Naturally, being allowed to run British poker rooms does not automatically grant the same rights in Greece, where online gambling is essentially banned as of yet.
In the same way, being allowed to operate as an online sportsbooks in the UK does not make it legal in Hungary, where this activity is still a state monopoly.
Whatever the particular situation in various countries, none of them like foreign, locally unlicensed gambling operators siphoning away bettors’ money without contributing to the national budget.
Now, while there isn’t much that states can do against it, the threat of never granting a legal license in the future is sufficient at times in making such operators reconsider their presence.
According to industry analysts this may have also been one of the motives behind Bwin’s decision. Except it was not so much the threat from small markets like Hungary or Slovenia, but the prospect of not getting a license in the renascent US online gambling scene for not playing by the rules in general.
A different, but related reason could have been the desire to focus available resources more closely on the potential US opportunities and not squander them in smaller markets.
Hence the move by the company to stop accepting players from Argentina, Armenia, Belarus, Brazil, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and the Ukraine starting from May this year.
Even though the company insists that this will not affect existing accounts from those countries, some players remain worried.