New players from 18 countries in the EU and South America will be blocked from signing up to bwin.party’s online gaming products, according to an email sent to bwin.party affiliates on Friday.
New account signups will be blocked on April 30, and affiliates are requested to remove any associated marketing material by that date. Existing accounts will remain open, and affiliate commission to those accounts will continue to be paid.
Many EU countries on the list have made moves recently to curb or prohibit online poker. Greece, Poland, Romania and Cyprus all make the list.
Finland and Serbia, which have their own small regulated online poker markets, are also listed.
According to the email sent by the bwin.party affiliates team, seen by pokerfuse, the removal from these markets was for “commercial reasons.” A bwin.party spokesperson was not available to further comment prior to publication of this article.
Three South American countries—Argentina, Brazil and Colombia—will also be blocked. To some, these markets were key potential growth opportunities; PokerStars’ Ronaldo signing underscores one competitor’s commitment to the market.
The reason behind the decision is likely a mix of regulatory concern and simple cost analysis. The remaining countries on the list—Armenia, Belarus, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Slovenia and Ukraine—may represent markets either too small or simply unprofitable for bwin.party to maintain operations in.
Party can now be expected to focus efforts in the US and on the key white markets where it operates: the UK, where it recently launched a new skin under the Zynga Poker brand; France, Spain and Italy, where they hold active licenses; and Belgium, where they recently bowed to regulatory pressure and now operate under license exclusively on the bwin.BE brand.