Greece is setting up a blacklist of banned online gaming sites and gaming providers. A thread on 2+2 showed a leaked list of banned online gaming sites. This list was put on a Greek government site for a short amount of time before it was removed.. The speculation is that this list will be posted once more and be made official. The list contains 402 sites ranging from blogs, to actual poker and gaming sites. Notable sites not actually on the leaked list include: Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, and 2+2. Not as lucky though is PokerStarsblog.net, which is even more confusing considering its mother site wasn’t included on the list.
What makes this even more concerning is the Greek government is going to try to get ISPs to block these sites as well. It’s still unclear if any of the ISPs will comply, and it will probably be a while until anything official is said by those companies because this information is still in the leaked stage and not official yet. Even when this information does become official, expecting any kind of quick movement by these private companies is not something that should be expected.
This is just the lastest chapter in the Europeans movement on poker. The movement and regulation of poker has been going at different speeds in different countries. Interstate poker is banned in Spain, France and Italy, and is not legal in Germany and Belgium. The Nordic countries also have many restrictive tax laws that make it problematic to play on some sites, especially those that are not registered in a European Union country. Other countries also have laws that restrict gaming in one way or another, but those countries are the most restrictive in general. Luckily for poker it has found a niche that is carved out in many countries and has enjoyed great success in many of the countries where they have a government that overall looks down on gaming.
There is also fear that the United Kingdom is going to jump on poker regulation next, because they want a piece of the pie. This is still in the beginning stages of happening though, and any major moves by the government are expected to take some time to take effect. Considering this, it’s not something that grinders in the United Kingdom should be super scared about. Making your voice heard is still going ot be important though, and not getting involved can cause something to happen like what has happened in so many countries already.
Poker on a global scale though is getting squeezed in different spots. Pokerupdate ran an article a bit ago that talked about the Australian government removing all mobile poker clients from its app stores, and everyone is more than familiar with what has happened in the United States with black Friday. Asian and South American countries have always had a tenuous relationship with online games, and that is another hot bed that has to be approached with care. This of course is better than how Middle Eastern countries feel about online poker, and gambling in a more general sense.
Not all of these crackdowns are bad for the players though, as poker becomes more regulated and must become more responsible, so must the sites and how they deal with players. If some regulation can help avoid another Microgaming, Full Tilt, or Lock Poker, there are bright spots to be taken from all of this. Additionally, with strong regulating bodies overseeing sites, less players have to worry about being treated unfairly, because there will be proper enforcement and agencies to oversee activities. One of the things that many people have pointed out regarding many of the scandals is there is no legal jurisdiction in which to pursue these case of negligence,, discrimination and outright theft. It is not something that many players really think about though, as they just see the game that they love being squeezed by overzealous governments.
This move shouldn’t be exceptionally surprising for anyone following global politics though. Greece has a very high unemployment rate and has been running into many financial problems for the last couple of years that have crippled the country. Anything the government can do to collect more taxes, avoid having money leave the country, and putting up the appearance of doing something is going to be well within their playbook, and it’s perhaps more surprising that this hasn’t happened sooner. Greece has long since forgotten what the people want, and in reality, the people they have to appeal to most are actually other countries that hold the purse strings, or in Greece’s case, the loans.
This blacklist might change as they realize they missed sites, or it could just be made official and then left alone for months or even years. What actually happens from this point forward is going to be something that needs to be monitored and could have an impact on other countries that are on the fence about what role poker should play in their society. Check back here for updates to the story as things develop.