Partypoker, the popular online poker room, is planning to exit around a dozen unregulated territories as GVC Holdings, its parent company, prepares to pull all of its brands out of grey markets.
Partypoker account holders from several countries, including Norway, Poland, and Montenegro, received messages from Partypoker telling them about the company’s plan.
As of December 1, players will no longer be able to deposit funds, if they live in one of the affected countries. Play will be suspended on December 17 in all of the grey market countries. However, existing Partypoker members will still be able to sign in and request withdrawals.
All cashback will be credited to player accounts by December 23. But, all non-cash rewards, such as unused tournament tickets and loyalty points will be void as of December 17.
Colette Stewart, Partypoker’s Twitch and Community Manager, stated on the company’s Discord discussion forum that “by mid-December, following a management business decision, we will no longer offer our services across unregulated poker markets.” Furthermore, their parent company, GVC, will focus only on operating in fully licensed and regulated markets.
The Quick Exit of Partypoker is Part of Larger Strategy
Partypoker’s quick exit from unregulated markets follows GVC’s announcement in November that it would withdraw all of its brands, including Partypoker, from unregulated and gray markets. This move falls in line with GVC’s commitment to only operating in 100% regulated markets.
Right now, regulated markets account for 96% of GVC Holdings’ revenue, which means cutting gray markets loose will barely affect it. In fact, last month, the company has said that by the end of the year, 99% of its revenue will be coming from regulated markets, and by the end of 2023, that will be 100%.
Focusing exclusively on regulated markets should also help the company’s expansion in the fast-growing US sports betting and online gambling markets. GVC’s US joint venture with MGM Resorts International, ROAR Digital, has entered several states where online casino games and sports betting are legal. That joint venture, BetMGM, plans to expand further as more states legalize internet and mobile gambling.
GVC’s Controversial Operations in Turkey
Turkey is a market in which legal gambling is only offered legally by a state-run operator. UK-based GVC’s involvement in Turkey may have been what prevented BetMGM and GVC from obtaining a license in Nevada last year. While Nevada regulators eventually did grant a license to GVC, it was not without serious investigations and questioning concerning the Turkey business.
Several years ago, GVC dumped its Turkish subsidiary, but its controversial operations in that country linger, and have created regulatory trouble for the gambling company. In a surprise move this summer, HM Revenue & Customs announced that it was looking into “potential corporate offending” by GVC concerning its former Turkish subsidiary.
Rebranding as Entain
GVC’s exit from unregulated gray markets is part of the company’s bigger plan to rebrand itself as Entain plc. The rebranding is a move to reflect the fundamental changes that have taken place within the company as well as in the gambling industry at large.
The rebranding was endorsed by 99.9% of the company’s shareholders, who cast their votes at a general meeting, approving a new corporate charter that proposed several novel long-term sustainability objectives.
All operational teams and subsidiaries will be supported by the new ‘Advanced Responsibility & Care’ program. This is a proprietary safer gambling technology to protect problem gamblers with extra checks and better monitoring and interventions.
The company’s expansion will also support the ‘Entain Foundation’, a CSR fund committed to donating more than £100 million over the next five years to local communities, to use for both problem gambling research as well as funding grassroots sports initiatives.
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