Betfred, the UK based bookmaker, made the surprise decision to withdraw its online poker client from the South African gambling market. The move comes as part of a wider action to withdraw its online poker services from 19 different countries around the world.
In a statement issued by Betfred this week, it said that it was withdrawing “on Monday, June 9th, from a number of countries due to regulatory and general licensing processes.”
Betfred Poker customers were left wondering what they would need to do regarding their funds in their Betfred Poker accounts, and were told by the group in the same statement that “all accounts from those territories will be closed and players have 30 days to withdraw their money.”
The countries in question, besides South Africa, are: Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, Norway, Finland, Belgium, Poland, Bulgaria, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Japan, Latvia, Portugal, Slovakia, Ukraine and Romania.
In recent months, speculation has been rising that Betfred will be withdrawing altogether from the Canadian market, and it was rumored that other countries such as South Africa may be affected as well. However, it was not expected that as many as 19 countries would see the back of Betfred Poker.
The group runs an online poker room on the iPoker Network, which is owned by casino software provider, Playtech.
Analysts are still scratching their heads in confusion over the decision by Betfred to exit so many markets at once. It is not only the quantity, however, but also a question of timing (or mis-timing, in this case). With the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicking off this week, online gambling operators are falling over backwards in an attempt to grab a piece of the market and enjoy one of the best money-spinning periods in the past four years, as gamblers flock to all types of sites, including online poker and casino platforms. By exiting so many markets at one time, Betfred will be losing out on valuable revenue.
In March this year, William Hill, another British company, announced that it was leaving South Africa, as well as over 50 other countries, also citing “regulatory reasons”. The group underwent a reorganization of global operators and decided to pull out SA, several other African states and more.