PokerStars is shutting down its real money online poker operation in Israel. The said the closure was the result of a, “commercial assessment,” but didn’t offer much more in the way of details.

Israeli players were notified of the decision last week in an e-mail which read, in part:

Our management team regularly reviews our operations market-by-market to assess commercial opportunities and business risks for our brands. Following a recent review, we regret to inform you that we have decided to stop offering real money games to players who are physically located in, or have a registered address in, Israel [as of] June 27, 2016.

While PokerStars wasn’t forthcoming with details as to why they were leaving the Israeli market, online forum posters and the gaming media were more than happy to fill in the blanks.

Most sources suggest that PokerStars is simply exiting Israel because it remains a grey market where online poker is simply not legal. Online poker remains a grey area for Israeli players mainly because online poker didn’t exist when the country’s gaming laws were written, as is point out by Lee Davy over at

PokerStars, like most mainstream and publicly traded operators has been making a concerted effort to move away from grey markets over the past few years. While these unregulated/semi-regulated markets offer a steady revenue stream, any connection to them can prove to be a major headache when when attempting to enter more regulated markets like the United States.

Exiting Israel has to be something of a bittersweet experience for PokerStars, whose founders are mostly Israelis.


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