Full Tilt made an announcement to its customers in the United Kingdom on Tuesday, telling players that their rewards would be cut by about 20 percent, effective immediately.
The decision was made because of the UK’s new point of consumption tax, which was put into place on December 1.
Before the chance, players received ten rewards points for every dollar they paid in rake. Now, players in the UK will only receive eight points per dollar instead.
Reportedly, the previous rewards program offered players the equivalent of between 10 and 35 percent in rakeback; now, even the highest VIP level, known as the Black Card tier, will only return about 28 percent of rake to players.
The new tax laws are part of the UK Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act, a sweeping piece of legislation that reformed the UK’s approach towards online gambling in the nation.
Under the new laws, operators were required to receive licenses from the UK Gambling Commission, which among other procedures required them to justify any significant activities in grey market jurisdictions around the world.
But the policy that could have the most impact on operators and players alike is the 15 percent point of consumption tax implemented under the law.
The UK, looking to capture the tax revenue generated by online gambling in the country, now requires licensed operators to pay the tax on any money made from the activities of UK gamblers on the Internet.
While that rate is still low when compared to many other regulated markets in Europe, it was a big increase for operators used to paying almost nothing in taxes to the jurisdictions they are based in, such as Gibraltar, on their UK profits.
When Full Tilt first made statements about the migration players to a UK-specific poker client, their words suggested that players might not see much of a difference in their rewards and bonuses.
“You will continue to have access to all games and offers available at Full Tilt,” an FAQ on the poker room’s website said.
The changes at Full Tilt may provide some insight into what players at the UK version of PokerStars can come to expect to see starting in January.
When PokerStars began preparing UK players for their migration to a new client earlier this year, they noted that VIP Club rewards “will be reduced slightly for 2015,” with more information coming at a later date.
That, combined with an overall review of VIP programs across the board for PokerStars, has led to significant uncertainty for players heading into the next year.
While the change in the UK’s tax regime for online gambling provided the impetus for these changes to reward programs, the reductions may once again provoke accusations that Amaya Gaming has made decisions that are against the interests of players since their takeover of the Rational Group properties.
Earlier this year, players protested increases in rakes and tournament fees on many games on PokerStars, and regulars also reacted poorly to the introduction of “Spin & Go” tournaments as well as the elimination of a popular Sit & Go tournament promotion.
Even smaller changes have started to cause controversy, such as the addition of an all-in equity display to the client this week.