Chips in the UK casino

Betclic Completes Withdrawal of Everest Poker Brand From UK Market

Betclic has completed its withdrawal of its venerable Everest Poker brand from the United Kingdom’s online-poker market, ending 15 years of availability for the brand for British players. Everest Poker’s pulling from the UK’s online space, though not specified by parent Betclic, appears to have been the latest in a large number of smaller and mid-sized brands being yanked due to increased regulatory pressure and added expenses involved with doing business in the United Kingdom.

The move was announced late last month, and it went hand in hand with Betclic yanking its Expekt brand from the UK as well. Both brands were shuttered to UK customers as of October 31st, with an ongoing (and rather brief) window ongoing for affected customers to request a withdrawal of their remaining funds.

Betclic wasted little extra effort in crafting its notifications, simply making minor changes to the e-mail it sent to its former Australian poker players when change in Australia’s online-gambling laws forced Everest Poker and all other white-label brands to leave the Aussie market. “We apologise for any inconvenience this situation may cause and take this opportunity to thank you for choosing Everest Poker and wish you the best for the future,” the e-mail stated, with very little other fanfare.

The UK pullout continues the curious history of one of online poker’s more mercurial brands. Everest Poker was founded way back in 2004 and was originally part of the GigaMedia brand family. Everest was always a Euro-centric brand, with little to no American player presence; the US’s passage of the UIGEA in late 2006 had very little direct impact on Everest Poker’s fortunes.

In fact, one could even argue that it boosted Everest’s possibilities. With many big brands forced from the US and with live-poker brands such as the WSOP eyeing European expansion, GigaMedia saw a chance to boost Everest Poker’s brand awareness across Europe, signing a multi-year sponsorship deal with the WSOP. The deal included branding on both sides of the Atlantic, and “Everest Poker”-branded, dark green seat cushions were endemic during the 2008 and 2009 WSOP main events.

The sponsorship deal between Everest Poker and the WSOP was supposed to continue through 2010 but fell apart under acrimonious circumstances, but that wasn’t the blow that crippled the brand. Instead, it was the firewalling of multiple western European countries, most notably France and Italy. Both of those countries (and Spain and Portugal as well) eventually barred all online poker operators from their jurisdiction, then set up single-nation regulatory and licensing schemes.

Everest Poker, which by this time had been 60% acquired by Mangas Gaming (which in turn became part of Betclic), was instantly closed off from the majority of its western European player base.

Everest limped on, and Betclic indeed tried to pump some new life into the brand a few years back with some major pro-player sponsorships. In large part, though, Everest was left chasing the pack in an increasingly competitive market. Many smaller brands, predictably, have been put under pressure by the UK’s increased regulatory oversight, and the Everest and Expekt pullouts are indeed just part of a much larger brand consolidation.

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