PokerStars and Full Tilt – “illegal” in the US

Bwin CEOs, Norbert Teufelberger and Manfred Bodner , have declared in an interview for that PokerStars and Full Tilt are operating “illegally” on the US online gambling market.

Bwin is currently the world’s third strongest poker services provider after PokerStars and Full Tilt and they believe that if they hadn’t withdrawn from the US market in 2006 they would have held the pole position right now.

Teufelberger is of the opinion that those two websites obtained their world-wide power due to their monopoly over the American market. It’s not that they have “premier marketing skills or premier technology”; it is their illegal activity in a very profitable context that renders them so strong against the competition. Otherwise, they will have no other competitive advantage to set them apart from the other online gambling operators.

“It’s not because they have premier marketing skills or premier technology, what they have is hundreds of millions of dollars from what we see as an illegal market. We would expect that once the US regulates, these two companies will not have access to the market, and once that happens we’ll then see who the leader will be. They say they’re not operating illegally but I think they are.”

Teufelberger is almost certain that once the US online gambling market will become deregulated, PokerStars and Full Tilt will no longer be offered a license to operate in the new market. He claims that US licensing authorities are aware of these two sites’ illegal activity and so the question is whether or not they will be prosecuted, let alone withdrawing their licenses.

“I used to be personally licensed and operated in the land-based environment in the US so I know how stringent the US authorities are in their licensing process and I cannot imagine that a company which in the view of the DoJ (Department of Justice) and several state licensing authorities in the US, that acts illegally, will be able or qualify to get a licence. In my view this will be absolutely impossible. What does that mean in the end? I don’t know. They may be prosecuted, they may not be prosecuted”.

The Bwin CEOs are however cautious as there is a probability that PokerStars and Full Tilt will be granted a license in the newly deregulated US market. If this will happen, then pulling out in 2006 will have been their “biggest mistake”.

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