PokerStars is pulling out of China, Taiwan, and Macau, this according to an e-mail that the online poker room recently sent to its customers in the three countries. PokerStars has yet to make an official comment; the e-mail was posted on the Two Plus Two forums. The policy takes effect Tuesday, September 1.
The trio of markets – China, especially – is clearly massive, so PokerStars could have understandably kept on with the status quo and raked in the money. And though Stars did not explain why it is no longer going to accept customers from the three countries, it is not difficult to figure that its parent company, Flutter Entertainment, has no desire to get on the wrong side of governments and regulators, even in other countries.
In last Thursday’s earnings report, Flutter may have telegraphed this move, saying that there are , “a small number of TSG jurisdictions that Flutter had previously determined it would not operate in and in such cases, we have now switched these markets off.”
The company is also said that its PokerStars unit needs to improve “the quality of TSG’s safer gambling/anti-money laundering procedures.”
Flutter said that getting out of certain markets and putting the clamps down on money laundering is going to cost The Stars Group portion of the business £65 million per year.
The only information in the e-mail sent to customers was that PokerStars has relaxed its cash out policies to make it easier for players to get their money on such short notice (and really, there is no real reason for PokerStars to explain business decisions like this to everybody via e-mail – the important thing is what, not why). Normally, poker players must use the same method to withdraw funds as they did to deposit them, unless they want their money via wire transfer or check (I haven’t played online poker in a long time, so correct me if I’m wrong there – hooray living in the Bible Belt).
But in this case, PokerStars is speeding things up. The minimum amount for a wire transfer has been reduced to $50. China and Macau players will be able to cash out via MuchBetter, even if they didn’t use it to deposit. And Taiwanese players can use Skrill or NETELLER without a previous deposit.
CFT-eligible Visa, WebMoney, and ecoPayz are also available, but in this case, all three do require a deposit to have been made with the desired payment method in order to be eligible for a withdrawal.
Unfortunately for players in China, Taiwan, and Macau, they will not be able to play in the 2020 World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP). WCOOP began on Sunday, August 30 and will run through September 23. It consists of 75 events, all with three buy-in tiers, for 225 total tournaments. All told, PokerStars is guaranteeing $80 million in prize pools, the most ever for the WCOOP.