Another big online gaming brand is withdrawing from the Spanish market. The move comes in advance of pending legislation in the country that will regulate online poker and other online gaming.
The latest departure is from publicly listed Nordic giant Unibet, that operates an online poker room on Microgaming internationally and in France.
According to Spanish news site Poker Red, Unibet has emailed customers registered in Spain and informed them that they only have until May 14 to place their last bets. All online gaming, including poker, will cease, but players have a leisurely 30 months to withdraw their funds.
However, a deal has been struck with Ålandic operator Paf—who runs a poker rooms on both the Ongame and GTECH G2/Boss Media platforms—to offer online gaming services to Unibet customers once the belated Spanish online gaming licenses are finally issued.
Update: A representative for Paf has clarified that the Spanish poker room will be on Ongame only.
Unibet is not the first skin to opt-out of the Spanish market. In February, multiple Microgaming skins, including NordicBet, emailed customers in Spain and asked them politely to leave. Bodog said “no gracias” back in March.
But the departures are more exceptions than rules. At least 40 operators thought to be hopeful applicants, including all the major players: PokerStars, PartyPoker, iPoker, Ongame and GTECH G2 are all touted to be on the list. Microgaming will be present at least with Ladbrokes, who extended their existing agreement with the software provider to bring poker to Spain when it goes live.
“When” is still the key question. The deadline on the moratorium looms and it looks increasingly likely that another deadline will be missed. With quiet exits made by non-applicants, Spanish players will have the worst of both worlds If licenses are not issued by the end of next month.