Trying to keep it clean
If you are reading this from Russia or Moldova, and thank you if you are, since not even my family reads anything I write, and you have been frequenting partypoker for your online poker fulfillment, it is time to find a new poker room. Last week, the site sent e-mails to its customers in both Russia and Moldova, letting them know that it has withdrawn from those markets.
Colette Stewart, partypoker’s Twitch and community manager later confirmed the news to members of party’s Discord customer service channel, writing, “It’s correct we are removing services from various locations due to regulatory issues.”
While this is obviously bad news for Russian and Moldovans, it will also be disappointing for other players around the world, as Russian players make up a large chunk of online poker liquidity. Traffic at the international partypoker tables will certainly shrink a bit.
The move is part of a long-term plan for partypoker’s parent company, Entain, to extract itself from anything that could be remotely considered a gray market. When GVC Holdings rebranded to Entain in November 2020, the company said that it would focus only on regulated markets. At the time, 96% of the company’s revenue was from legal, regulated jurisdictions, but it said it wanted to get to 100% by 2023.
In May of 2021, Entain got out of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.
US market is growing
Though online gambling – poker, casino, sports betting, what-have-you – is not legal across all of the United States, Entain does have a presence in some states through BetMGM. Then GVC, Entain partnered with MGM Resorts International to create Roar Digital in July 2018, a venture that is best known as BetMGM. It has been very aggressive getting its online sportsbook into regulated states. BetMGM also operates online casinos and online poker rooms through the partypoker, Party Casino, and Borgata Online brands, though poker’s reach is extremely limited. It has BetMGM-branded online poker sites in Michigan and Pennsylvania and partypoker in New Jersey.
There is talk within the industry that Michigan and Pennsylvania could finally join the interstate poker compact, with Michigan possibly jumping in this year. This would be great news for Entain, as it has been unable to link its online poker rooms in the United States.
Currently, Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware share player liquidity, though only the WSOP/888 network has been able to take advantage of that with platforms in all three sites. Michigan and Pennsylvania and both large in terms of population, so getting those states onboard would help everyone and finally allow BetMGM/partypoker, as well as PokerStars, to get their interstate networks going.
It is thought that BetMGM/partypoker will launch in Nevada one day, but the state, because of its smaller population, is not the most attractive for online poker (though being on the interstate network helps). Entain could also be waiting for the state to give regulatory approval to online casinos so it can just do both casino and poker at once. It could still be a long time before WSOP.com has any competition in the Silver State, though.