PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker room, has become the first poker operator to receive a license from Bulgaria’s State Commission on Gambling. The Commission posted an updated list of approved operators on its website yesterday.
In a press release published on the website of the Rational Group, PokerStars’ parent company, PokerStars officials said, “The Gambling Commission’s decision to award PokerStars a license underscores the company’s commitment to be among the first companies to enter regulated markets when licenses become available.”
“Bulgaria is full of promise,” added Eric Hollreiser, Head of Corporate Communications for PokerStars. “Poker is extremely popular in the country and recently we have seen some notable results from Bulgarian players including Dimitar Danchev, who won the 2013 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event for $1,859,000. We are delighted with today’s news and we are looking forward to work with the Gambling Commission so that we can launch as soon as possible.”
Bulgaria established online gambling regulations in early 2012 and those regulations went into effect in July of that year, but to date, only three operators have been granted licenses. The first was efbet.com, a Bulgarian sports betting site, which received its license in September 2013. After efbet was toto.bg, the state-owned lottery operator. And now, PokerStars, the lone licensed online poker provider in the country.
Along with the list of approved providers, The Commission also updated its blacklist, the list of sites to which internet service providers are supposed to block access. Included on that list are such popular sites as bet365.com, sportingbet.com, unibet.com, ladbrokes.com, 888.com, interpoker.com, and PokerStars’ sister site, fulltiltpoker.com, which is also owned by the Rational Group. PokerStars.com is on the blacklist, as well, but that means little at this point, as Bulgarian customers will play at pokerstars.bg, which will share tables with international players on pokerstars.com.
PokerStars has been extremely prolific in launching country-specific sites. We all know that the flagship site is the monster of the internet poker industry, but it also has three localized sites in PokerScout.com’s top ten. PokerStars.it (Italy) ranks sixth in PokerScout’s rankings with a seven-day average of 1,900 cash game players, PokerStars.es (Spain) ranks seventh with 1,600, and PokerStars.fr (France) ranks tenth with 1,250. The company also holds licenses in Germany, Malta, Denmark, Belgium, Estonia, and the Isle of Man.
It is not known at this time if Bulgaria’s State Commission on Gambling plans to give PokerStars any competition in the foreseeable future.