Flutter Entertainment Pulls Plug On PokerStars Black Markets

PokerStars is exiting China, Macau, and Taiwan from September 1 after Flutter Entertainment “switched off” off black markets.

Flutter Entertainment last week revealed its latest financial figures. A statement within those financials revealed it was gaining a tighter hold over The Stars Group. The Stars Group’s willingness to operate in grey and black markets is a major concern for Flutter Entertainment.

“There were a small number of TSG jurisdictions that Flutter had previously determined it would not operate in and in such cases, we have now switched these markets off.”

China, Macau, and Taiwan are the first of these black markets to be “switched off.” Flutter Entertainment estimates the cost of such measures to be £65 million $116.8 million) per year. None of the three markets allow legal online real-money poker in their respective countries. China, in particular, is clamping down on offshore gambling by making it more difficult for payment processors.

The news of PokerStars pulling out of these countries broke on the Two Plus Two forums. Two Plus Two is the biggest poker community in the world and often the source of breaking news.

A member by the name of “ssg” posted a screenshot of an email they received from PokerStars’ support team. The email informed the recipient of PokerStars intention to exit China, Macau, and Taiwan on September 1. The recipient was urged to withdraw their available funds as soon as possible.

PokerStars made changes to its rules for making withdrawals to help these country’s residents to withdraw their account balances.

Is Russia Next on PokerStars’ Chopping Block?

The banning of these three countries is worrisome for residents of other grey and black markets. The Russian poker community is huge, with Russian’s making up significant percentages of tournament fields.

Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor is blocking hundreds of gambling sites. PokerStars features 131-times on the current Russian blacklist. This is because it created dozens of “mirror sites” to allow Russians to access the PokerStars client.

Flutter Entertainment pulled out of Russia in May. Russians cannot access sites such as Betfair and Paddy Power. It seems extremely likely PokerStars will follow their parent company’s lead.

Social media was awash with players voicing their concerns about China, in particular, being banned. Dozens of Chinese poker players frequent the high stakes tournament and cash game scene.

One Two Plus Two poster suggested GGPoker will consolidate as the biggest online poker network. GGPoker is more relaxed in regards to the countries it allows access to its poke network. GGPoker welcomes players from China, Russia, Macau, and Turkey among others.

Business Is Booming For the World’s Largest Gambling Company

Flutter Entertainment and The Stars Group merged in an $18.3 billion mega merger in May. The combined company is the biggest gambling firm on the planet.

All gambling companies are suffering at the hands of COVID-19, but Flutter Entertainment is weather the storm. This is because the company has a massive online presence.

Online poker and online casinos performed well for the group. As did the company’s Australian operations.

The continuation of horse racing allowed Sportsbet and BetEasy to flourish. Their retail outlets closed, but punters flocked online in droves. Revenue across these companies increased by 45% to £435 million ($781.91 million). Earnings rose an incredible 84% to £121 million $217.50 million).

The number of daily active customers betting on Australian horse racing increased 30%. Margins jumped 2.2 points to 11.7%, partly because of favourable race results.

Peter Jackson, CEO of Flutter Entertainment, gave a prediction to the company’s full 2020 financial figures. Jackson predicts group earning will be £1.175-1.325 billion ($2.12-$2.38 billion). He expects its US division to post a loss in the region of £150 million $269.60 million), however.