Earlier this year, one of the biggest stories in the online poker industry involved how much money Spain was demanding from PokerStars. The country was issuing licenses through their newly-regulated market, and government officials stated that Stars owed them four years’ worth of back taxes.
This amounted to a whopping €200 million ($257 million), but the world’s largest poker site paid up because they wanted a legal Spanish license. Thanks to that decision, PokerStars in now thriving in the regulated market since they command over 70% of Spain’s online poker traffic. But while all seemed well, there was one very unhappy party in all of this.
Codere, which is a Spanish multinational company that owns casinos all over the world, claimed that Stars had been operating illegally in their country since 2001. Furthermore, the Codere Group believes that PokerStars’ “illegal” operations cost them money because so many Spaniards were playing internet poker. But popular speculation is that the land-based gambling giant wanted to clear the way for their own online poker site, which has been rather unsuccessful on the Boss Media/GTECH G2 network.
Stars is not the only company that Codere was going after though because similar lawsuits were brought against both Betfair and SportingBet. In the case of SportingBet, their Miapuesta brand was actually forced offline for a few months, but was allowed back after paying back taxes to the Spanish government.
Getting back to Stars, a Barcelona court ruled that there was no basis behind Codere’s case. The court “agreed with PokerStars’ position that it operated lawfully in the country because the lack of regulation meant that there was no relevant law preventing such activity.”
Lawyers for PokerStars have been in and out of the courts quite a bit in recent times. First off, they had the US Department of Justice to deal with from Black Friday (April 15th, 2011) to the fall of this year. During the same time, they were also dealing with the Spanish back taxes issue as well. Luckily, the massive poker site can finally rest easy on the legal front for a while after the favorable ruling in Barcelona.
Paul Telford, who is a lawyer for PokerStars, spoke about the legal victory by saying, “This ruling confirms the legal advice we have been given and which we have followed in Spain for years.” He went on to say, “We are very pleased the court agreed with our position and look forward to continuing to provide our licensed poker services as the leading brand in the Spanish market.”
Another Stars lawyer named Antonio Vazquez Guillen talked about the case by saying, “The Barcelona court judgment is absolutely clear in its conclusion that PokerStars has always operated in Spain according to the law.” Guillen added, “We are very happy with this outcome. It clarifies a question that, in our view, should never have been brought to a court of justice.”
Another Victory for Mac Poker Players
For the past few years, Stars has been one of the leading Mac online poker sites. Unlike some rooms – which only offer browser-based (instant) play for Mac grinders – PokerStars features a fully-downloadable version of their software for Mac players. What’s great about this is that you won’t get robbed of certain features that may be lacking in an instant play version. This being said, you can enjoy all of the same software features, bonuses and promotions as anybody else.
Because Stars is such an excellent Mac poker site, it’s great to hear that they’ve had a big legal victory in Spain. This means that Spanish Mac players will get to keep playing at the world’s largest poker room without a hitch. Furthermore, it could have positive implications in other parts of the world too where PokerStars has failed to gain a foothold so far.
This is especially pertinent in the United States because many American Mac poker players are hoping to eventually play in a legal and regulated market. And PokerStars definitely figures to be one of the driving forces in making this happen in the near future.