THE EUROPEAN ONLINE POKER MARKET
NOT SUCH A FULL HOUSE
Robbie Strazynski looks at the precarious state of online poker in Europe.
SOMETHING’S ROTTEN in the state
of Denmark, as well as a whole bunch of
other European Member States these days.
I don’t know how good a poker player
Hamlet was, but I’m sure he would agree
that the state of online poker in Europe
these days is rather tragic.
“What?” I hear you say. “But poker is
as popular as ever! Millions and millions
of people play the game all over the
world – that surely includes Europe,
no?” Well, I’m certain there are plenty of
Europeans playing poker, but that’s just
not translating into signiﬁcant numbers of
people anteing up online. The glory days of
European online poker are long gone, and
try as operators might, they’re simply not
recapturing the magic and size of the player
pool as during poker’s boom years.
Part of the reason for this, of course, is
the lingering worldwide recession. Even
dedicated recreational players simply don’t
have as much discretionary income free
anymore for online poker. Speciﬁcally,
however, there’s one prime culprit causing
the ailments in European online poker, and
that’s a lack of liquidity.
Whether you’re a live poker room or an
online poker room, liquidity is what’s
needed to survive and thrive. The more
players you can count on being logged
iGB Afﬁliate FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
in, the better the online poker room will
do. Online poker is a game wherein the
house is guaranteed a proﬁt because its
revenues come in the form of hands raked
and tournament fees. Ergo, the more
hands raked and the more tournaments
being played, the higher a room’s revenues
will be. In other words, there’s a direct
correlation between the number of online
poker players and the revenues of any
particular online poker room.
When poker was booming all over the
world in the early to mid-2000s, the ﬂow
of players to online poker tables was simply
astounding. Naturally, the online poker
euphoria swept through Europe as well.
More and more online poker rooms opened
up to cater to the demand. Times were good
for the players, for the operators, and, of
course, for afﬁliates, who were able to cash
in with high CPA and revenue share deals.
Everyone was ﬁghting for a piece of the pie,
and the pie was only growing.
Then, European governments
started getting hungry for tax revenues.
Speciﬁcally, their greed has essentially
jammed up what used to be a smoothly
ﬂowing online poker economy and broken
up the entire player base into ever smaller
pieces. Their complete lack of regard for the
people involved in the fun and business of
online poker play cannot but make
one’s blood boil.
United they stood;
divided they’re falling
Abraham Lincoln famously said that
“a house divided against itself cannot
stand”. The saying rings incredibly true
in the case of online poker in Europe.
Despite efforts to forge a truly uniﬁed
Europe, eliminate national borders, and
come together as 20-some odd countries,
apparently when it comes to online poker
tax revenues, the whole ideology seems to
have been thrown out of the window.
Greed has reared its ugly head over the
last few years, which has led to country-bycountry player ring fencing.
French online poker players used to
be able to take seats at the virtual tables
with other players from Spain, Denmark,
Italy, Holland, Finland, Spain, and other
European countries. No more. National
regulations have been enacted that
effectively encircle each country base of
poker players within its virtual borders.
Go on Spaniard – play against your fellow
hombres and mujeres; but “es impossible”
to play against your Portuguese
neighbours. One might be able to freely
drive over the Iberian Peninsula
borderline, but “the Euros stop here”
when it comes to online poker activity.
Even the UK, the long-heralded bastion
of online gambling freedoms, has seen its
governing bodies begin to enact rules