PokerHeaven.com to Close Citing Regulatory Hell

November 7th, 2015 | by Greg Shaun
PokerHeaven.com Closes Down

Poker Heaven will close November 12, strangled by restrictive European regulation, taxes and ring-fences. (Image: PokerHeaven.com)

PokerHeaven.com, the European-facing online poker site on the MPN and OnGame networks, will close on November 12. Meanwhile, the site’s customers have until November 19 to cash out their balances.

The company assures that “all player funds are held in a ring-fenced account and are available for you to withdraw from now until 19th November.”

PokerHeaven was launched in 2005 at the height of the poker boom by the Gaming Media Group.

At the same time, the group created Europe’s (and the world’s) first ever 24-hour poker TV channel, “The Poker Channel,” which was rebranded as “The Player Channel” in 2012, before winding down its operations in late 2013.

Narrowed Markets

PokerHeaven was the online poker platform of the Poker Channel, and originally operated as a skin of the Boss Media Network, which later rebranded as GTECH.

As GTECH wound down its online poker network operations in 2013, PokerHeaven migrated to the OnGame Network, which had recently been acquired from bwin by Amaya.

Then last year, in a bid to attract more customers, it added a skin to MPN network, offering players a choice of the two networks.

But the Euro-facing site’s customer base was ultimately decimated by changes in European regulation over the years. The die was cast in 2010 when France and Italy both opted to regulate and ring-fence their online poker markets, and were followed the next year by Italy, Denmark and Spain.

These new European dot-country jurisdictions taxed their licensees punitively, which made it difficult for middling network-skin operators, such as PokerHeaven, to enter the market.

The company attempted a Spanish skin on Ongame when Spain regulated, but it proved to be ill-fated.

POC Tax Death Blow

The death blow probably came with the advent of the new UK tax regime at the end of last year. The point of consumption tax meant that operators licensed in respected jurisdictions such Malta, as was the case with PokerHeaven, were no longer able to offer their services legally to UK consumers.

Instead, they would have to be licensed, and taxed at a higher rate, by the UK government. Again, for many middling operators this was unsustainable, and PokerHeaven chose not to enter the market.

“After ten years as a trusted European Poker brand that has focused on enhanced player experience and outstanding customer service, due to increased market regulation across Europe and other environmental factors, PokerHeaven.com will close,” read a statement on the website this week.

“We would like to thank all our customers over the years for their loyalty to Poker,” it added.

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