PokerStars is the biggest online poker website in the world and Full Tilt Poker is one of the most popular websites across the globe. Both these websites are owned by Amaya Gaming which is based out of Canada and together, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker have a combined global talent pool that is in excess of 50 million players.
Amaya Gaming made a strategic decision that from the 1st of October 2014 both PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker will concentrate on offering real money gaming in countries where online poker and sports betting is clearly regulated.
This decision was based on a new policy instituted by Amaya Gaming and as a result both PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker have had to withdraw real money gaming from over 30 countries.
Poker players from these 30 countries will now no longer be able to play real money games and will have to look for alternate websites. While Amaya Gaming is yet to publish an official list of countries where PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker will no longer operate, unofficial reports confirm that places like Sudan, North Korea, Cuba, Myanmar, Qatar, Jordan, Kuwait, Senegal, Nigeria, Malaysia, Turkey, UAE, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Zimbabwe, Libya, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Palestinian Territories, Kenya, Rwanda, Mozambique, Yemen and the Vatican will no longer be able to offer real money gaming from PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker.
Players from these countries who logged into their poker client on October 1st were greeted with a pop-up that said
Our management team and advisors regularly review our operations market-by-market to assess commercial opportunities and business risks for our brands. Following a recent review we have decided to stop offering real money games to players who are physically located in, or have a registered address in, a limited number of countries.
Amaya Gaming big decision to withdraw from 30 countries is based on the fact that these markets are unregulated and it there are many loopholes involved in running a successful long term operation. However this move to withdraw from unregulated markets also poses other challenges for Amaya because the Canadian market is also unregulated and Amaya has its headquarters in Canada.
Amaya Gaming could release more information in the near future explaining its policy in more detail and providing an official list of countries that it has withdrawn from. Amaya continues to make significant changes since its acquisition of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. Other changes include focusing on expanding casino and sports betting games and launching a new PokerStars 7 client.