GGPoker has decided to stop its online poker service in 12 countries over regulatory concerns.
The news was announced by GGPoker Head Jean Christophe Antoine, who further clarified that the network will either seek licenses or partnerships with locally licensed operators to operate in those countries.
The list of countries in which GGPoker will not be available includes 11 European countries and 1 South American country. The European countries are Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Switzerland, and Georgia, which lies on the Europe-Asia border; the South American country is Colombia.
Reports suggest that players in the 12 countries are still able to access GGPoker, but new users are not able to sign-up on the network.
A customer service response circulating online, from GGPoker to a user inquiring about the availability of the network, has raised eyebrows. In the text of the response, the GGPoker representative seems to be suggesting to the players that they can access the network using a VPN (Virtual Private Network). The company will bear no liability as it will be customers who will use VPN.
The text also informs users that the jurisdiction-based lock will show the country an account appears to be connecting from, not the country where the account is listed as originating.
Thus, doubts have been raised that GGPoker is opening a backdoor for users in the 12 countries while officially withdrawing from them, thereby trying to hoodwink regulatory agencies.
GGPoker was initially available only in Asia but expanded to other countries as its popularity grew. Most of the GGPokers skins are licensed in Philippines and Curacao. It does have a license from the UK Gambling Commission. It teamed up with Swedish firm Enlabs to offer online poker in Lithuania and Estonia under the brand name Optibet.
In its rush to explore new markets, GGPoker seems to have failed to ensure regulatory compliance in the countries in which its users are based. With its large prize pools, it’s no surprise that regulators in different countries began to take an interest in its activities. The uber-rich are particularly attracted to GGPoker. A large amount of money changing hands will certainly cause alarm bells to go off in government.
In another setback for GGPoker, its partner Mount Airy Casino’s application for opening a mini-casino in Pennsylvania, was rejected by the state authorities over its inability to secure funds for the project.
Todd Greenberg, Mount Airy Casino COO, and general manager blamed “increased competition from new casinos and nearby destination resorts” for the company’s inability to procure funds.