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Online Poker – A Bad Beat For Bwin In Bavaria?

By Samantha Williams

Party Poker is one of the most popular online poker games sites serving the UK and European-facing marketplace. But they were not always serving this market and were once top of the heap – the largest internet poker offering in the USA – this all changed after UIGEA was promulgated and in 2006 Party Poker and in fact Party Gaming exited the US market after taking legal advice. The reason being that they are a publicly traded company, at which time, private owned companies PokerStars and Full Tilt amongst others, were only too happy to fill the gap left by Party Poker.

They obviously have been keen to get back into the USA, and have basically been biding their time for the US to once again become an emerging marketplace. In the meantime, just last year, Party Gaming and European online gambling giant Bwin, entered into a merger agreement to form one of the most powerful publicly traded online gambling forces in the biz.

Much of this gambling giant’s strategy is based on entering into a newly emerging German and USA marketplace, but the problem is that both of these countries are procrastinating big time. Is this a bad beat for them? Well…it could be if something doesn’t give soon – they are such a big company that they need to keep growing to stay afloat.  

The German government has announced that they are going to be issuing online gambling licenses to seven operators, but the problems is that taxation is so high at 15.7%; that it makes it virtually impossible for this newly merged company to make online sports betting for example, affordable for their customers. Although Party’s big business is in poker, Bwin’s is mostly sports betting; and they have been betting on getting into Germany with this business.

Again, in the USA, should the market be made legal, the tenets of the Wire Act will not be allowing any online sports-betting, but we can be sure that online poker will be allowed. Bwin.party has already entered into a joint venture in the USA with Boyd Gaming Corporation and MGM Resorts International. This is of course in anticipation of the marketplace becoming regulated – nothing concrete has taken place yet.

In another bad beat for Bwin.party, they have been ordered to stop all advertising for online gambling in the Portuguese market. This came about as a directive following a court ruling in which the gambling giant has been told they have an unfair advantage against land gambling concerns.

The sad thing about this situation is that sporting teams which receive their sponsorships from this online poker games and gambling brands are going to suffer the most. The only winners in this case will be land casinos and other land gambling concerns. It is unfortunate, but European sporting teams are struggling to get sponsorships in a weak economy, and this move has been a bit stupid actually – like the Government of Portugal throwing out the baby with the bath water.