PokerStars Withdraws From Czechia: The Why and When of It

Poker Rooms | estimated reading time
2024. June 14. |
PokerStars announced its intention to exit the Czech Republic poker market. This announcement comes soon before the country’s new regulatory changes happen.
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The Czech Republic has been discussing implementing new regulatory changes in its poker market. On January 1st, the Gambling Act (GA) and the Act on Gambling Tax (AGT) announced an amendment that significantly affects poker rooms in the country. 

Following the announcement, PokerStars decided to withdraw from the country. Learn more about the new amendment and what it means for Czechia players.

New Regulatory Poker Changes

The country might have announced the amendment to the GA and the AGT on January 1st, but it’ll only become active on July 1st. This grace period allows operators to adjust their services and offers to reflect the new regulations. 

It’s the most extensive regulation change since the market became regulated in 2017. Due to this amendment, operators had to make a significant choice. The changes include new conditions for poker operators, increased revenue taxation, and a new licencing procedure.

We summarised the changes below:

  • The Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) Tax on poker tournaments increases from 23% to 30%
  • The GGR Tax on slots remain at 35%
  • The exemption on gambling income decreases from CZK1 million to CZK50,000
  • A Panic Button, enabling temporary self-exclusion, is now compulsory
  • Operators can’t offer risk bonuses to players anymore

While there are other changes, these changes significantly impact poker rooms.

PokerStars’ Decision

While partypoker left the market late last year in response to the talks about regulatory changes, PokerStars held out. However, the poker room finally announced its intention to leave the market. The brand cites “impending regulatory changes in the Czech Republic” as the reason.

When announcing its intention to leave, the poker room said it would cease all operations by June 20th. On June 4th, Czech players received an email about this decision. The email stated that players could continue using the services until June 20th, when the brand surrenders its licence. 

However, players should also be aware of the following factors:

  • New deposits won’t be possible from June 6th onwards
  • The brand will refund unused poker tournament tickets/entries
  • The brand will convert non-promotional rewards to the players’ cash balance
  • Czech players can still register for the EPT Prague
  • Players in Czechia must withdraw their remaining balance before June 20th
  • The poker room will return any remaining balances to the registered bank accounts

At this point, PokerStars announced that it has “no plans to re-enter” Czechia. This decision leaves Czechia without any international operators.

What It Means for the Czech Republic

With PokerStars’ exit and GGPoker’s delay in entry, the country will have no international poker operators. However, Czechia players still have two local operators: Fortuna and SynotTip. Fortuna is an iPoker skin, while SynotTip is an independent and small poker room.

How Will This Affect PokerStars?

With PokerStars’ exit from Czechia, we expect a dip in its concurrent cash game figures. The brand is already running far behind GGPoker, which averages just under 10k seats on a seven-day moving average. 

With this market withdrawal, PokerStars’ figures, which average just above 3k seats, will likely drop even further. Conversely, we don’t expect it to affect GGPoker, as the brand hasn’t entered the market yet.

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