Internet gambling in Estonia is approaching its one-year birthday. It was early 2010 when this small Baltic nation liberalized its online gambling industry, establishing a licensing and regulation system to allow foreign gambling companies to set up local operations. Last week, Estonia issued its fourth online gambling license, granting PokerStars permission to establish and Estonia-facing poker site.
Not long after the first online gambling sites in Estonia opened up to the public, the country’s new gambling laws began to receive criticism from the industry. First of all, the requirements a company must fulfill in order to obtain an Estonian gambling license are quite strict. The group must set up servers in Estonia, meet stringent technical requirements, and pay steep fees. Some smaller online gambling groups felt that Estonia’s small market was not worth the trouble.
More criticism came in April when Estonia began proactively blocking unlicensed gambling sites. The current blacklist contains nearly 300 foreign-based internet gambling websites that may be subject to ISP and payment blocking. Estonian ISPs face fines as high as $15,000 if they fail to comply.
PokerStars, once on the blacklist, is now one of the few foreign-based gambling sites to offer online gambling services to Estonian players. The online poker giant worked hard to meet all technical requirements asked for by Estonia’s licensing committee, including setting up a web server in Estonia to support software for player checks.
PokerStars has not officially announced its new license, nor have they announced a timeframe suggesting when their new site will be open. All that is certain is that sooner than later, PokerStars will give thousands of fans the chance to play online poker in Estonia, adding one more option to local gamblers.