Big changes ahead for UK-based online poker players
UK-based poker players have had it pretty easy since the rise in popularity of online poker in the late 1990s, but all that is possibly about to change.
From October 1, the new version of the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act comes into force in the UK. As part of this new version of the law, any online gaming operator that offers services to residents of the UK, has to be fully licensed in the UK, and as part of that licensing, each operator must stick to a strict series of guidelines, which includes an agreement to pay 15 percent tax on gross profits generated by payments by UK-based players.
Different poker rooms have reacted differently to this news. PokerStars has announced its intention to migrate all UK-based players over to a separate, UK-based PokerStars poker room, while Mansion Poker announced a few weeks ago that it was intending to pull out of the UK poker market altogether, and sent an email to all its UK customers advising them of this. They also advised that players move to Titan Poker instead which, like Mansion Poker, is a member of the iPoker network.
It is not just the tax issue that has caused poker rooms to reconsider their approach in the UK market. Some common poker client functions, such as auto top-ups and auto re-buys have been deemed illegal by the new act, and restrictions have been made to the way in which VIP schemes can operate.
Despite this new act becoming law in only two weeks time, many leading poker rooms - including Party Poker, Bet365 and William Hill - have not yet announced how they intend to deal with the changes that the new version of the law will create. UK members of poker rooms will need to watch their inboxes for such announcements over the forthcoming fortnight.