AngusD switched from pro chess to poker two decades ago and has been professionally involved in the game on numerous levels since the very beginning of online poker, including playing as a poker ambassador both online and at major festivals around the globe. He has written much about the game over the years, and brings to YPD a wealth of experience in all aspects of the poker industry. Meanwhile, his many years on the pro chess circuit (he’s an International Master and prolific author) afford him an interesting perspective on the psychology of poker.

· Published 23.02.2022 · last updated 23.02.2022

Good news for online punters in Greece and Sweden

Here at YourPokerDream our quest is to provide opportunities to poker fans to enhance their experience at the tables, but we realise that not all countries’ governments afford their citizens the ability to enjoy online gambling, whether this is through restrictive regulations or outright bans. With this in mind, it’s always good to see developments that allow people the freedom to enjoy gaming and betting, as well as greater choice in terms of providers.    

Poker fans in Greece can now join fellow players from around the globe thanks to Pokerstars making its multi-product offering available in Greece via a full operator’s licence from the Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC). Securing a licence means that the Flutter Entertainment company can launch their Poker, Sports and Casino brands. This is great news for punters in Greece, who will now be able to avail themselves of top quality sports betting and online casino offerings as well as real (and play) money poker games and tournaments via Pokerstars’ web and app-based platforms that cater for desktop, tablet and iOS and Android nobile users.

Dan Taylor, the CEO of Flutter International said that “Launching PokerStars under a full local licence in Greece follows months of hard work from teams across the business” and went on to thank those involved for makiing PokerStars’ range of products available in Greece and in turn “…contributing towards our ongoing strategy of growing our business in international regulated markets.” This ambitious sounding talk of expansion in other countries does indeed seem to be genuine given that their latest venture in Europe comes after opening a strategic hub in Ceuta to support its operations in Spain.

PokerStars and the group’s sports betting arm, Betfair, have been operating in Spain for over a decade, but this new hub is a significant sign of bigger and better things to come in the country.

And it doesn’t end there! The company further bolstered their presence in Italy’s betting market recently when – for €1.9 billion (£1.62bn) – they acquired top operator Sisal. Flutter have said that PokerStars and Betfair will feature alongside Sisal in a commercial strategy in Italy that is aimed at achieving a 20% market share.

Swedish government makes welcome u-turn on online casino restrictions

Some governments are more flexible than others. One such – at least when it comes to online gambling regulations – appears to be the Swedish government who, after previously planning to re-impose temporary restrictions on online casinos on 7 February, have now decided against the move. 

This has, of course, elicited considerable relief among those in the industry, as well as their customers. The measures (a reaction, in the main, to the changed landscape caused by COVID-19), set to be in place until summer, include, for example, a deposit limit of SEK 4,000 ($430), as well as obligatory limits on online casino playing time. A further planned measure was to put a cap of SEK 100 on bonuses that providers could offer. 

Not surprisingly, the Swedish Trade Associaton for Online Gambling (BOS) was not in favour of this or any other draconian restrictions, and Gustaf Hoffstedt, BOS Secretary General, expressed understandable relief at the government’s more than welcome rethink: “It is a wise and well-balanced decision that the government has made… because precisely these restrictions would not achieve their purpose of protecting public health.”

Just because this or that restrictive measure might not ultimately be implemented, that isn’t to say the powers that be don’t nevertheless have plans in place. Indeed, a ministerial call for ‘the moderation of casino games’ and bans on the promotion of illegal and unlicensed gambling has led to suggested reforms being passed on to Sweden’s Law Council. Following a review, the proposed changes are expected to come into effect on January 7th, 2023. 

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