Are Gambling Laws Generating More Fees for Poker Players?

Popular online poker room PokerStars has recently edited its terms of service to include a new currency fee. Any financial transactions made with currencies unsupported by the website will be subject to a 2.5 percent charge. Supported currencies (British pounds, euros, U.S. dollars and Canadian dollars) remain unaffected.

Eric Hollreiser

Eric Hollreiser, PokerStars head of corporate communications, made a statement on his blog.

“The game is constantly changing and evolving, as is society and technology at large,” he explained. “Like any good poker player, we know that you have to adapt or risk being left behind. We’re committed to keeping poker exciting, fresh and relevant to new players and to loyal grinders.”

PokerStars has also recently discontinued services to more than 30 markets that are believed to have provided tax-free revenue in the past. These sudden changes may be symptomatic of the new regulatory burden brought on by changing legislation.

Approved by Parliament in March, the United Kingdom Gambling (Licencing and Advertising) Act requires all remote online gambling operators register for a licence with the U.K. Gambling Commission by Nov. 1 (formerly Oct. 1). The licenced operators are then subject to a 15 percent point-of-consumption tax on all revenues as of Dec. 1.

In response to this legislation, several operators left the British market. Mansion Online Poker, Carbon Poker, Winamax, SBOBet and PokerStars.fr are among the operators to do so.

PokerStars’ public relations representative Michael Jolsem addressed customer concerns over the site’s changes in a Thursday blog post.

“In recent weeks, PokerStars has made several changes which have upset some players,” he explained. “We’ve heard these complaints and are genuinely listening to the feedback.”

He continued to explain how changes can benefit the industry.

“If we can grow poker, everyone will benefit,” he wrote. “Even our competitors will benefit, because in a rising tide, all ships rise.”

Though not cited as such in either Hollreiser’s or Jolsem’s blog posts, increased government regulation and declining profits (triggered by the incoming tax) may be the stimulating factor behind many of these changes — changes that are certain to have an impact on consumers.

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