With the announcement of a new, alternative Full Tilt Poker site, European poker players have even more reason to take a seat at an online poker game play site.
The issue with gambling sites for European players has been the taxation issues. For many European Union (EU) jurisdictions, winnings from gambling sites based within the EU are tax free; however, winnings from poker sites that function outside of the EU are taxable. When PokerStars.eu, an identical but EU based version of PokerStars.com, first launched in 2012, it was initially only available to Swedish and Finnish players. Nordic players were required to pay income tax on winnings from any poker sites that were operating outside of the EU, and although the Isle of Man, where PokerStars.com currently resides, is a British Crown dependent, it is not a member of the EU.
PokerStars.eu is based in Malta, which became part of the EU in 2004. The PokerStars.eu site is licensed under the Lotteries and Gaming Authority of Malta (LGA). This creation of the EU site allowed players to indeed play poker on a site within the boundaries of the EU and have clear direction in regards to the taxation laws. Even with this clarification, PokerStars poker room manager Steve Day still cautions players to check with their local government regarding taxation policies as “players are responsible for determining their own tax liability”.
Like the PokerStars.com site, the PokerStars.eu site offers the same VIP club, rake structure, games, tables, and signup promotions. Other than a change to the logo, the game play experience is the same for European players. It is hoped in the future that the playing pool will include players from countries still within the EU, but who currently dictate separate licensing, or segregated player pools. Players in countries such as Belgium, Denmark, and Estonia are part of the PokerStars.com pool of players, but access sites licensed in their country of play. Players in such countries as France, Italy and Spain can access the PokerStars.com website, but the player pools must be separate from the player pool at large.
Similar to the PokerStars.eu site, FullTiltPoker.eu will be hosted in Malta and licensed under the LGA of Malta. The European version of FTP will feature the same games and features available on its twin site. According to FTP poker room manager Shyam Markus, FTP expects “…to begin rolling .eu out over the next few weeks”. It is hoped that with the creation of a second European based poker playing website, that discussions for shared gaming regulations between countries within the EU that were rumored to have occurred early in 2012, can indeed move forward. This move would be of benefit not only to players within the EU, but also of benefit to players around the world.
Now players in the EU will have even more choice when looking for online poker play.