iPoker skins exit Slovakia ahead of domain-blocking crackdown

slovakia-online-gambling-domain-blockingPoker skins on Playtech’s iPoker network are exiting Slovakia ahead of that country’s vow to block the domains of unauthorized online gambling sites.

This week, Slovakian customers of Betclic Everest Group’s Everest Poker site reported receiving emails informing them that the site would be exiting the Slovakian market as of July 6. Deposits were no longer allowed as of Tuesday (20) and online poker play will be suspended as of June 28. iPoker skins exited Poland’s online market this April under similar circumstances.

Slovakia amended its gambling regulations last year to require online sports betting sites to acquire local licenses – and pay 27% tax on gross gaming revenue earned from Slovakian punters – while preserving the online casino and poker monopoly of the state-owned TIPOS national lottery operator.

The amended rules also require Slovak financial institutions to block payment processing with unauthorized sites, while internet service providers are required to block the domains of internationally licensed online gambling sites that fail to obtain a Slovakian permit. The Slovakian government plans to publish its inaugural blacklist of banned domains on July 17.

Despite the looming deadline for implementation of this plan, the head of a local ISP association told Trend.sk that the Slovak Ministry of Finance had yet to deliver an administrative circular detailing the specific requirements of the domain-blocking obligation. A local banker said something similar regarding the lack of clarity for the payment-blocking rules.

Local ISPs and banks are also reportedly not thrilled by the fact that their government is requiring them to perform additional regulatory functions without offering to reimburse the added costs these new duties will require.

Land-based gambling operations haven’t been spared Slovakia’s shakeup of its regulatory oversight. In April, the city council in the nation’s capital Bratislava approved a blanket ban on gambling within city limits, with exceptions made for betting shops and lottery operations. Casino operators will be permitted to keep their doors open as long as their current licenses are valid, but must close down once those permits expire.