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The Online Poker Industry - 3 Weeks After Black Friday
On Friday April 15th, the online poker industry was rocked when the United States Department of Justice abruptly seized the domains of the four largest online poker sites. While this was initially devastating for U.S. based online poker players, most have successfully found new poker sites to continue on with their hobby or careers. In the weeks following "Black Friday"several players and affiliates unfortunately have reported having checks returned from several online poker sites throughout the industry.
Of the four poker sites seized and indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice, Pokerstars.com is the only site that has successfully begun processing player cash outs. Fulltiltpoker.com is rumored to be working on a solution to rectify their bounced checks, as well as the processing of their player and affiliate payments. AbsolutePoker.com & UB.com appear to be in the most dire position. Not only have they been reluctant to open a dialog with the DOJ to get possession of their domains back, there are now rumors circulating that the group may be on the verge of bankruptcy after releasing 95% of their staff and moving out of their offices this week.
The big winners in the industry have been the remaining online poker sites and operators that still accept U.S. players. Poker sites on the Merge Network as well as the Cake Network have seen significant growth over the past three weeks. Many of the online sportsbooks who host poker clients have also seen a dramatic surge in the number of online poker sign-ups. Although recently many of these sportsbooks such as Sportsbook.com and PlayersOnly.com have announced that they will no longer be accepting new players from the U.S.
The big losers throughut this three week whirlwind however have been the online poker affiliates. While there are some poker players that derive 100% of their annual incomes from playing online poker; the majority are simply recreational players. In the poker affiliate industry however, many poker affiliates promote online poker full-time for a living. A large majority of these poker marketers have been promoting these top four sites while building their businesses for several years. The loss of thousands of player referrals or years of search engine optimization from the largest online poker sites will undoubtedly cost many poker affiliates a significant percentage of their annual incomes.
In an interview with Jeremy Enke, the founder of the popular poker affiliate forum (PokerAffiliateListings.com), he stated; "This has been a very rough few weeks for poker affiliates. While there is still opportunity in the poker affiliate market, many poker affiliates have been left wondering how they are going to replace their lost incomes that in many cases took them years to build. In my opinion what transpired on Black Friday is far worse and has much more overall consequences than that of the UIGEA in 2006."
Three weeks after the most infamous day in online poker known as "Black Friday", there are still many questions left unanswered. There continues to be a great deal of uncertainty for both poker players and poker affiliates. In the coming weeks and months, it's probably safe to say that you should leave your seat belts fastened and expect moderate turbulence!
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