PokerStars, which submitted its application for a Bulgarian online poker license eight months ago and obtained a license six months back, has finally launched an online poker room in Bulgaria. Having done so, it has become the world’s first online poker company to launch a regulated and licensed online poker room in the country.
Eric Hollreiser, the head (corporate communications) for The Rational Group, said: “PokerStars strives to be first-in-market when online poker licenses are made available and we’re proud to be the first locally licensed poker site in Bulgaria.” Expressing optimistic views about the online poker market in Bulgaria, he said that the company believes in Bulgaria’s potential, which is why they applied for a local license.
Bulgaria is wise not to restrict player pools to its own borders. As a result, Bulgarian online poker players can play with other poker players from different parts of the world. The player pool at PokerStars.BG now forms part of player pools at PokerStars sites in Belgium, Estonia, and Denmark. Players at these sites can also play with players at PokerStars.com and PokerStars.eu.
PokerStars.com will now prompt its Bulgarian customers to move their accounts to PokerStars.bg. Once players have done so and downloaded the PokerStars.bg software, the online poker company will transfer their VIP status and points.
In the meantime, Bulgaria continues to blacklist a large number of poker sites that continue operating in Bulgaria without a license. The country’s gambling laws require its Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block these sites to prevent Bulgarians from accessing them. In July 2013, poker players who travelled to Bulgaria to take part in Eureka!, an event sponsored by PokerStars, could not access PokerStars.com. When PokerStars applied for a Bulgarian poker license, the country removed its name from the blacklist.
Since Dimitar Danchev, the Bulgarian professional poker player, won the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) 2013 Main Event, PokerStars.bg will use his success to market its local product. Danchev not only won $1.8 million for becoming the PCA 2013 champion, but also $54k for finishing fifth in the PCA 2014 Main Event.
However, PokerStars.bg will not be the only Bulgaria-licensed online poker room for long as the country’s lawmakers have passed laws to reduce poker licensing fees to make the market more affordable for offshore online poker companies. The Rational Group says that Full Tilt Poker is “in the process of applying for a gaming license.”