Stop online gambling concept with padlock

GGPoker Network Plans Formal Exit From a Dozen Grey-Market Jurisdictions

The growing online-poker GGPoker Network has begun a concerted shift toward white-market status by announcing its withdrawal from a dozen jurisdictions where the legality of its offerings are disputed by those nations’ authorities.

Earlier this month, players on GGNetwork site Natural8 were among the first to receive news that some countries’ players would be officially dropped. Eleven of the 12 jurisdictions where GGNetwork sites will no longer be available are European: Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Georgia, Greece, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Switzerland. The 12th country is Colombia, on the north coast of South America.

Head of GGPoker Jean-Christophe Antoine, speaking to select outlets, declared that GGNetwork will be withdrawing from these nations “due to regulation and we are looking into either acquiring licenses or [partnering] with locally licensed operators.” Antoine has also made public the network’s plans to return to these jurisdictions once the legal situation becomes more clear, or if the network receives official approval.

However, the seriousness of GGNetwork’s plans to police its network remain, well, somewhat up for debate. Players from several of the above countries reported still being able to play on the network’s sites. With no formal withdrawal date announced, that makes for a fluid, open-ended situation. GGNetwork sites may perhaps decline to accept new customers from certain nations, a stance some other networks have tried in the past, but that tends not to be a long-term solution.

More concerning is that some GGNetwork sites may already be giving a nod and a wink to the situation. One poster on a prominent poker forum, claiming to be playing from Columbia, shared the customer-service response he got when he inquired about his site’s future availability:

If authentic (and there’s little reason to believe it’s not), then the last line seems to be an open invitation to players to obtain continued access to the site and network by using a VPN (virtual private network). Note both the statement that it is the “players” using the not-mentioned-as-VPN software, not the site, and that the jurisdiction-based lock will be based on the country an account appears to be connecting from, not where the account might even be listed as originating. If there’s a more blatant way to suggest to affected players how to keep playing without mentioning the letters V-P-N, it’s hard to imagine.

Yet ll this comes as the fast-growing network appears elsewhere to be attempting to clean up its reputational game. The GGPoker sites have been primarily Asia-facing, but the company has obtained a UK Gambling Commission license and has other European deals in place. That could be troublesome: the UKGC has been taking an ever-stronger stance against its licensed operators who are also participating in grey- or black-market jurisdictions. What that means is that if GGNetwork is trying the metaphorical snow job with regards to allowing VPN play, the network will end up in the UKGC’s crosshairs sooner rather than later. It might take a few months or a year or two, but it will happen.

The not-quite-withdrawal from questionable jurisdictions comes just as GGPoker signed one of poker’s biggest names, Daniel Negreanu, to a high-profile endorsement deal. Negreanu joins Bryn Kenney as prominent faces for GGPoker, but that could make for an interesting situation for both pros should GGPoker run afoul of prominent white-label regulators. Yes, we all know about Negreanu and Full Contact Poker, but this is a little bit different situation. There’s really a marked difference in recent years between online poker sites that are full-on white label around the globe… and those that aren’t. The days when a large online network could straddle the line are pretty much behind us, this GGPoker situation notwithstanding.

At the risk of being called a cynic and a pessimist — probably true at that — I’ve got to opine that this whole GG situation may not end well.

(The opinions offered here are solely those of the author. They do not necessarily represent the opinions of the owners and publishers of Flushdraw.) 


Leave a Comment



filter by

Haley Hintze

17th January 2020 // Legal News, Misc, News

Pennsylvania’s Penn National Fined for Poker Tourney Regulatory Misstep

Pennsylvania casino entity Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association, LLC, the parent company of the Hollywood...

Haley Hintze

16th January 2020 // Legal News, Misc, News

Failed Australian Poker Backing Deal Results in Lawsuit Against James Hopkins

Another poker story emanating from Australia in recent days is a failed backing deal in which a related team of backers...

Haley Hintze

15th January 2020 // Industry, Legal News, Misc, News

Australian Regulator Orders Blocking of Ignition Casino, Eight Other Sites

Australia’s online poker players have seemingly lost another outlet for playing their game with the news that...

Haley Hintze

14th January 2020 // Misc, News, Poker Tournaments

World Series of Poker Announces 2020 ‘Championship’ Event Slate

The World Series of Poker (WSOP) has continued fleshing out the 2020 WSOP schedule of events. In recent days, after two...

Haley Hintze

11th January 2020 // Industry, Misc, News

Global Poker Awards Announces 2020 Voting Process, Expands Categories

The poker world’s largest celebration of its own, the Global Poker Awards, has announced more details for its...

Dan Katz

11th January 2020 // News, Online Poker Action

It Could Maybe Happen: 25-Cent Pokerstars Spin & Go’s Have a $1 Million Jackpot Chance This Weekend

The great advantage to being a micro- to low-stakes online poker player, as I was when I was able to regularly play...