Unregulated iPoker Sites Still Flourishing In The USADecember 1, 2014 2:11 pm
The USA’s three regulated online poker markets of Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey may be struggling to attract sufficient traffic to stay competitive, but the country’s unregulated, grey market operators are continuing to flourish with their customers apparently satisfied with the quality of products and service being offered.
The current situation highlights the challenges the country faces as it tries to protect its domestic market from unlicensed, untaxed offshore operators. The UIGEA, for instance, may have forced PartyPoker to cease its US operation back in 2006, and the Department of Justice may have chased PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker from the market in 2011, but a multitude of other poker sites have since emerged Stateside to fill the vacuum, including Bovada, Americas Cardroom, Carbon Poker and the Merge Gaming Network.
In fact, Bovada is by far the biggest poker site operating in the USA at present, and according to PokerScout has an average of 1,500 cash game players on the site over a week period, while for Party Borgata in New Jersey, the country’s most popular licensed site, the number of players is nearer to one-tenth that total at just 160 players.
The problem for the USA is that in the absence of a federal solution, the individual states are forced to take a market by market approach to passing online gambling legislation. However, initial problems including payment processing and geo-location issues, as well as lackluster monthly revenues coming from the three regulated states has meant no new states have been tempted to pass legislation of their own in over a year.
Furthermore, the USA’s first regulated poker site which launched in Nevada called Ultimate Poker, has since shut its operation due to falling traffic and minimal revenues. As Ultimate Gaming Chairman Tom Breitling explained a few weeks ago:
“As has been the case in other jurisdictions, online poker revenues in Nevada have fallen far short of original projections. Moreover, the state-by-state approach to online gaming has created an extremely cost-prohibitive and challenging operating environment. These factors have combined to make the path to profitability very difficult and uncertain. Consequently, we have decided to cease operations.”
While the country’s online gambling market is in such a disorganized array, grey market operators offering greater volumes of traffic and more competitive promotional offers will continue to thrive. This state of affairs looks likely to continue for some time, too, although US players are now keeping lesser amounts of money on their online accounts as a safeguard against another possible crackdown by US authorities in the future.