This week has proved to be one of contrasting fortune for PokerStars’ Italian platform.
Earlier this week news broke that the operator’s Italian business brand, Halfords Media Italy, is currently being investigated for alleged tax fraud totaling â‚¬300 million.
According to the Guardia di Finanza (Italy’s financial police), PokerStars’ Italian outfit has been “willfully eroding” profits made within the country and funneling revenue offshore.
In response to the allegations, PokerStars released a statement saying it is working with the authorities and that it has “operated in compliance with the applicable local tax regulations.”
Other than that, it’s “business as usual” at PokerStars.it which is good news for the operator as its seen its current market share hit 68 percent in recent weeks. At this point in 2014, PokerStars.it held a 53 percent share of the local cash game market, but a swell of action of action at the start of 2015 has seen that dominance increase.
According to the latest data collected by PokerScout, PokerStars.it has a 24 hour cash game peak of 2,967 players and a seven day average of 1,600. While a market share of 68 percent is impressive enough, this upswing comes at a time when Italy’s poker economy is hitting a downswing.
One of the main reasons touted for this increase activity is the 5.5 Billionth hand promotion which took place earlier this year. Additionally, the introduction of PokerStars’ Spin & Go games last September has helped spark a renewed interest in tournaments.
Overall, despite the Italian market contracting by 25 percent in the last 12 months, PokerStars has remained buoyant and the latest stats show a peak of 36,000 players logged into the site on a daily basis.
In addition to a dominant performance in Italy, PokerStars is also ruling things in Spain thanks to more than 34,000 players anteing up on a daily basis. Unfortunately, a strong performance in Spain and Italy hasn’t translated into a win in France.
Although PokerStars.fr has a seven day average of 600 cash game players, that figure is not enough to topple Winamax. The local operator has a longstanding reputation in France and that’s given it the edge over PokerStars and an average cash game following of 1,250 grinders.
Although the latest data will make pleasant reading for PokerStars, continued declines in Italy, France and Spain due to imposing taxation are a worry for the community at large. The French igaming economy in particular has suffered the most in recent years due to restrictive legislation.
A financial report released by the country’s gaming authority, ARJEL, at the end of January showed that online cash game revenues had decreased by â‚¬23.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2014. Compared to the same period in 2013, that represents a 12 percent decline and a 33 percent drop over the last three years.
Regardless of the trouble certain European countries may be facing in terms of igaming liquidity, PokerStars appears to be holding firm and, in some cases, improving its market share in certain areas.