My Thoughts on the Ever-Changing Global Gaming Market


Changes in online gambling regulations are what originally inspired the design of a global relocation service for online poker players that would ultimately become Poker Refugees. Since Black Friday, we have continued to witness numerous changes in countries’ regulations as well as changes to online gaming providers’ internal operational policies, all of which affect professional poker players.

While Poker Refugees started by serving primarily US-based players, an ever-growing part of our clientele comes from other countries also affected by tighter regulations such as France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Hungary, Israel, and many more.

The issues facing professional players are much more comprehensive and global in scale. For example, in 2014, we’ve seen Skrill halt gaming transactions in Canada, PokerStarspull out of many grey markets, and EU sites like Winamax leave the UK.

I believe the trend toward stricter country controls, tighter regulation, higher taxes, and more rake will continue for the foreseeable future as unregulated markets follow in others’ footsteps. In most cases, I unfortunately expect the changes to have a negative impact on professional players, simply because “regs” represent the smallest portion of the market.

The aim of regulation is typically to create a structure that serves a country’s best interest, which can effect greater control of market activities and operators, increase tax revenue, and should inherently protect the citizens as well. Professional gamblers’ personal income streams are an unlikely factor for consideration during the legislative process.

The needs of foreign players without permanent residency or citizenship in such countries are even less likely to be taken into account. If Mexico can expect tens of millions of tourist arrivals annually, the comparative economic impact of a couple hundred poker players is also a hard argument to make.

While the details of Mexico’s proposed regulation appear concerning for the local and foreign pros who live there, we are continuously adapting to changes in the online gaming environment and will continue offering services that evolve with the needs of our players. We will be monitoring the situation closely and making any necessary changes to our service offering based on the permanent outcome and official statements by the major poker sites.

We prefer to wait until everything is fully passed and implemented before speculating on the eventual outcome, as there are many moving parts and multiple factors that can change quickly. In the meantime, we will continue expanding operations to other poker-friendly countries and adjust our current list of services and destinations as needed.

Visit Poker Refugees for more details on our services.