When new regulatory changes were introduced this month in the United Kingdom, PokerStars was prepared to move into an exciting future for its British customers. Unfortunately, that transition did not go as smoothly as was hoped, and now the world’s largest online poker company is scrambling to recover and regain the trust of their British audience.
After the UK Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act went into effect on November 1st, PokerStars was forced to acquire a British gaming license. While this transition shouldn’t have caused any problems in the competitive experience for British poker players, the transition was not nearly as smooth as promised.
The trouble began when PokerStars announced that the new British tax laws would require a corresponding increase in rake. This meant more money out of the pockets of British players simply to play the game, and it also meant a decrease in loyalty rewards that are typically offered to frequent players. Unfortunately for players, PokerStars has such a large share of the market that there are very few available options, forcing any who wanted to stay in action to deal with the new rake and rewards scheme.
While British players were frustrated but willing to deal with the changes, the interruption in service that followed pushed many to the limits of frustration. After transitioning to the new server on November 8th, many UK PokerStars users found themselves restricted from entering games, with an error message informing them that they may be permanently unable to play. This led to a great deal of worry throughout the poker community, and while it was eventually resolved and revealed as merely an error in the transition, the damage may already be done. Formerly loyal PokerStars players are now looking for new locations for action, and PokerStars is scrambling to recover.