GGPoker has quickly rocketed to the top tier of online poker operators in record time, and the most recent move by the operator is a new license. The Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission has recently approved a new license for GGPoker, which they plan to use for much of the global player pool.
Previously, the operator used a license through Curaçao for most of its global players including the EU, as well as separate platforms in Poland and Germany.
While European players (except UK players, which are licensed separately through the UK Gambling Commission) remain licensed through Curaçao, players from countries like New Zealand and Canada, as well as Asian and South American regions are now playing under the newly acquired Isle of Man license.
GGPoker-branded Skins and their Licenses
|GGpoker.EU||13 European nations||Curaçao|
|GGPoker.co.uk||UK||UK Gambling Commission|
|GGPoker.com||Rest of world, including CA, NZ, S America, Asia||Isle of Man|
Countries on GGPoker.EU under Curaçao License
Best in Class Offshore Gaming License
The main advantage to securing an Isle of Man license is more legitimacy. The regulator is widely seen as best-in-class for online gaming licenses, with very effective player protection mechanisms leading to one of the best reputations in the business.
Curaçao, on the other hand, is more well known for a hands-off approach to licensed entities that provides a lot of freedom for operators, but does not force as much protection for the player pool.
The industry-leading PokerStars was a large factor in the growth of the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission. The global juggernaut is headquartered on the island, and historically used their gaming license from the jurisdiction to run much of its global network. More recently, PokerStars moved over to a license from Malta to serve its European market.
A lot of other companies and partners are licensed in Malta, so if you want to work with them, you need to have the same license.
While the Isle of Man is an excellent solution for the larger global player pool, it still leaves European players out in the cold. One issue with both Isle of Man and Curaçao is that neither is a member of the European Union. That presents concerns for European players, as many EU jurisdictions tax the winnings of players on sites licensed by an entity outside the EU.
Possible Malta Entry for EU Players
That is where Malta comes in. In June 2020, GGPoker secured a license from the Malta Gambling Authority (MGA) for business-to-business gaming activities.
The current Malta license does not allow the operator to offer gambling directly to consumers, but instead is geared towards partnerships and joint-ventures with other gaming companies also licensed out of Malta.
That may change, however. The MGA license may well be the first step towards a license that covers European players within a European regulatory framework.
The groundwork for that path has already been laid by competitor PokerStars. They have moved their European customers over to an MGA license, which courts have looked favorably on in tax cases, as seen recently in a multi-year dispute between Dutch players and their national tax authority.
That case looks to be ending with a settlement where the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration has offered to repay players for unnecessary tax bills over the last decade from PokerStars.EU winnings.
The moves to secure licensing from Isle of Man and Malta coincide with GGPoker’s larger effort to pull out from grey-market jurisdictions, as reported by our sister site PRO.
In late 2019 they exited from several markets including Colombia, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia and Switzerland. Now, it appears they are making more moves out of grey market areas by ceasing to accept new players from India, and other countries may fall in this new round of clean ups.
These moves seem to signal a desire by GGPoker to move into a more strictly-regulated business model. In addition to the moves that look to improve the situation for European players, parent company NSUS was recently approved for a manufacturer license in Pennsylvania for its first push into the US market.
While it is unclear how they will use this new US exposure, it’s a clear sign that the operator is looking to move into markets that had previously been closed to them.