Amaya is now officially approved to operate online poker and gaming networks in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland after both PokerStars and Full Tilt received licenses from the United Kingdom’s Gambling Commission.
Since the passage of the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act in May of 2014, which forced overseas gaming providers to apply for authorization to offer services to UK consumers, the Amaya brands have been operating under a temporary continuation license.
“We are very pleased to receive operating licenses in the UK, which is a large and growing market for us,” Eric Hollreiser, head of corporate communications for Amaya said in a press release. “PokerStars and Full Tilt now hold licenses from a dozen European jurisdictions.”
The likely motivation among UK lawmakers to pass new iGaming regulation presumably involved taxing operators based upon incomes received from its citizens. The act not only forces a remote gambling company to apply for a license and pay an annual fee, but the network must also pay a 15 percent tax on all profits, which the poker networks previously avoided by being based in the Isle of Man.
While government taxes typically don’t help improve an industry, the increased regulatory environment, another result of the recent act passage, should create a better gaming experience for British Internet gamblers.
The issuance of a UK online license is only rewarded after a thorough review of the provider is completed. According to Amaya, gaming regulators used a rating system to analyze its:
1. Financial stability and history
2. Corporate and business unit management structure
4. Game integrity
5. Payment processing and security
6. Anti-crime and anti-money laundering protections
7. Responsible gaming policies and practices
8. Regulatory approach to various geographic operations
Amaya’s passage of the strict assessment is worthy of a little boasting. “We believe the UK licenses illustrate the strength of our platforms, our regulatory approach, and our commitment to integrity, security, and consumer protection,” Hollreiser said.
PokerStars and Full Tilt has also agreed to the highest standards of player fund protection, a voluntary condition that places UK account balances in a trustee, a separate entity from the platforms in order to ensure the safeguarding of player bankrolls.
Though Amaya’s two leading brands are predominantly poker-based, that doesn’t mean Amaya isn’t focused on expanding its gambling market share. Its new licenses not only permit poker, but also other forms of gambling and wagering including sports betting.
“We continue to build upon PokerStars’ leadership in poker in the UK and intend to leverage our scale and expertise to become market leaders in casino and sports betting,” Hollreiser revealed. Amaya expressed immediate interest in sports betting following its acquisition of PokerStars and Full Tilt in June of 2014.
According to Amaya CEO David Baazov, the sports betting platform could roll out on PokerStars as early as next month. In January, the company teased that the sportsbook client would debut in certain markets before expanding throughout the year.
Although it’s not clear which markets sports wagering will expand to, it appears one thing is for certain; UK customers will soon be able to place bets on Premiere League and cricket matches right from their PokerStars platform in the very near future.