September 16th marked the passing of the first main deadline associated with the newest UK gambling regulations. This Tuesday marked a deadline for online poker rooms to apply for a UK online gambling license.
The deadline is in anticipation of October 1st, when the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act becomes active. Online gambling companies of all types – poker rooms, casino games and sports betting sites - must all obtain a UK license before the start of October if they wish to continue operating.
There is one further main consequence of this legislation, which won’t come into effect until December 1st. There will be a point of consumption tax on gross profits from any online gambling operator. This tax is 15%, and while it is unclear how this will affect poker room operations, it’s possible that they will increase rake or cash out fees.
What are Poker Rooms Doing?
The added expense and licensing process has already forced many small operators to shut down their poker and gambling platforms. However, most of the big brands will continue to operate as normal, so players will not see too much of a change as a whole.
Pokerstars, Full Tilt, Partypoker, 888 and Unibet are all expected to continue operating in the UK, assuming there are no hiccups with the licensing process.
Sites on the iPoker network on the other hand are choosing both options. Most of the major sites plan to continue operating, most notably Winner and Titan, which have both launched a localized version of their site on .co.uk domain extensions. Mansion poker, however, is one of the first well-known casualties so far. The popular iPoker site closed down right before the application deadline, as of September 15th.
The iPoker sites that are adapting to the changing situations, Titan and Winner so far, are both owned by PT Entertainment Services, a subsidary of Playtech. Playtech is known for their poker software and ownership of poker rooms. The current users of the sites have been transferred over without any significant difficulties.
Due to the structure of the legislation, the rooms continuing to operate need to have an intermediary license until the UK applications are evaluated and accepted or rejected. Titan and Winner Poker are bth using an Antigua license, which is one of a few different valid options for now.
Online poker in the UK is changing in a major way behind the tables, but if all goes as expected, there shouldn’t be too many differences for the average player. We will keep you informed if rake, fees or related operations are changed in the future because of this legislation.