Online gambling operator The Stars Group had a mixed week in the former Czechoslovakia, gaining a betting license in the Czech Republic while having other operations banned in Slovakia.
Late last month, Czech gambling affiliate PokerArena reported that The Stars Group’s BetStars brand had been granted an online sports betting license in the Czech Republic, the first online betting license the market has issued to an international operator. In February, The Stars Group’s flagship PokerStars brand became the first international operator to launch a Czech-facing online poker site.
But last week saw PokerStars and BetStars domains added to the growing online gambling blacklist in neighboring Slovakia. The finance ministry debuted its online blacklist in July and has been steadily adding naughty names of international companies not authorized to accept action from local punters.
Among the Stars-related domains making (or failing to make) the grade in Slovakia are BetStars.com, BetStars.eu, PokerStars.eu and PokerStarsCasino.eu. Unlike in the Czech Republic, Slovakia hasn’t opened up its online poker and casino market, choosing to leave those products as the sole responsibility of the state-owned TIPOS national lottery.
Among the other international names earning spots on Slovakia’s blacklist are numerous Bet365-affiliated domains, the Kindred Group’s Unibet and Stan James Online brands, JetBull, lottery betting operator Lottoland, Betfair.com, Betsafe, Betway, Winmasters and sports betting mainstays Pinnacle.
However zealous Slovakia’s ban-happy finance ministry may appear, they’re rank amateurs when it comes to the continent’s ban-hammer (and sickle) champs, Russia. In the month of October alone, Russia’s Roskomnadzor telecom watchdog brought its gavel down on 7,417 gambling domains.
Among these domains, a stunning 1,026 were related to online betting operator Fonbet, which has a Russian-licensed site but also operates an international .com business that offers products beyond those permitted under Russia’s sports betting-only regime. The fact that one single company could have over a thousand mirrors blocked in a single month amply demonstrates the inherent folly of such tactics.