UK government, Amaya Gaming, UK license

The UK Gambling Commission appears to be unconcerned about Amaya’s operations in gray markets like Russia. (stock-free-images.net)

Amaya Gaming has passed its most rigid regulatory test since the acquisition of PokerStars and Full Tilt, following the granting of UK licenses for both poker sites, as well as its B2B online casino business.

Amaya had previously been operating in the UK under a temporary ancillary license.

Previously to the advent of the new UK licensing regime, both PokerStars and Full Tilt had been licensed in the Isle of Man, one of several UK white-listed jurisdictions.

But the new UK Gambling Act, which came into force at the beginning of the year states that in order to offer online gambling to UK citizens an operator must be licensed and taxed in the UK.

The online poker giant launched a UK client in November, migrating all players from the .com client, although UK players still share its player pools.

12 Licenses Across Europe

“We believe the UK licenses illustrate the strength of our platforms, our regulatory approach, and our commitment to integrity, security, and consumer protection,” said Eric Hollreiser, Head of Corporate Communications for Amaya and PokerStars. “PokerStars and Full Tilt now hold licenses from a dozen European jurisdictions.”

Perhaps most significantly, the new regime requires applicants to provide legal justification for operating in markets for which they hold no specific license. PokerStars ceased operations in a number of “gray market” countries suddenly and without warning towards the end of last year, the majority were in Africa and the Middle East, presumably as a compliance measure.

However, it still offers games to Russia, where the government has tried to block access, and to major gray markets such as Germany, Canada, Mexico and Japan.

Tacit Approval for Gray Market Ops

While each applicant is judged on its own respective merit and integrity, it’s interesting that the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) clearly does not feel that companies operating in these countries should be precluded from receiving licenses. Nor  does it seem to be overly concerned with PokerStars’ and Full Tilt’s history of offering gambling to American citizens, post UIEGA.

This, despite the declaration on its website that it “will also look at the manner by which the applicant has conducted any previous business with specific regard to the provision of gambling in other jurisdictions and in particular any operations in black or grey markets.”

According to a statement from Amaya, the UKGC conducted a “thorough investigation” of its business practices, which included everything from its anti-money laundering procedures to its responsible gaming policies and practices.

“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 now hold licenses from a dozen European jurisdictions.”