ith population of about 2 million people, Slovenia has 13 casinos across 11 cities. In comparison, neighboring Italy has only five casinos and population of more than 60 million people. What is more, it could be said that both live and online poker offering has long been particularly popular among Slovenian gambling customers. With that said, losing such a major operator could definitely be considered a big hit for the local industry.
Slovenia joined the European Union in 2004. In 2013, lawmakers started preparing the country’s own online gambling regulation. Earlier in 2016, the EU Commission was notified about the new laws and these are now awaiting approval.
Although no real money games will be provided to local players, they will be able to withdraw their remaining balances whenever they find fit
Slovenia is expected to regulate its iGaming market by the end of 2016 but it will probably not be before the first quarter of 2017 when interested gambling operators would be granted licenses. Although the country’s online gaming market has not been regulated, gambling companies have been providing their services to local players for some time now.
PokerStars announced that it would stop offering real money games to Slovenian gambling customers via a short statement on Friday. Even though the company did not explicitly provide reasons for its decision, it suggested that it was based on the lack of regulation in the country.
According to the PokerStars statement, the online poker room hoped to be able to apply for a license in Slovenia once the country regulated its market in a manner that would demonstrate commitment to the vulnerable part of its population and “[served] the needs of all stakeholders.”
Although no real money games will be provided to local players, they will be able to withdraw their remaining balances whenever they find fit.
As mentioned above, the exit from the Eastern European country came shortly after PokerStars shut down real money operations in Israel. Israeli players officially cannot play online poker for money on the PokerStars website as of June 27, 2016.
PokerStars leaving Slovenia came as a bit of a surprise within the online poker community. Quite understandably, local players were among those to be the most vocal about the unexpected closure of operations.
PokerStars Team Online Pro Luka Kovač is also among those affected by the change. The player pointed out that PokerStars was among the few providers to offer his favorite Fixed Limit Hold’em format in Slovenia and with the online poker room now being out of his home country, he said that he would probably relocate.
Concerns were also voiced that after PokerStars left two markets in such a short period of time, there will be more such moves to be taken. Yet, according to the Friday statement, the online poker room is not planning to pull out of other regional online gaming markets in near future.