Latest Friday Blackout News
On Friday 15th April, around 2.5 weeks ago, the domains of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and UB/Absolute Poker were seized by the FBI in America.
The domain seizure had effectively meant that the three largest US poker sites had been taken down for a limited period of time (depending on players’ dataservers and country of their IP). The closure of the 3 biggest US-friendly sites meant that massive numbers of recreational and professional online poker players were looking for other US-friendly rooms to play at.
Bodog and Sportsbook.com obviously had massive traffic with their presence in the US as an online sportsbook, poker room and casino operator (where you can play roulette online) for more than 15 years. However a lot of other Merge poker rooms took advantage of the US players who had no where to play, primarily their flagship poker room Carbon Poker plus their sister site Lock Poker.
Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars still accepting non-US Players
Soon after the domains were seized, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker made some sort of backroom deal with the FBI that allowed them to keep their .com domains (all traffic had been re-directed to their .co.uk and .eu domains for a few days) and pay out US player balances.
Currently, Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars have both taken a great deal of time to pay out US player’s cashiers. Although both of these poker site have kept the confidence of European players by paying European accounts out as normal, several US players have had difficulty withdrawing their funds.
The worst culprits this time round are UB.com. Unlike PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, UB.com failed to take immediate action and retain confidence in their brand. Hundreds of thousands of poker players that still have money in their UB accounts have been unable to withdrawl their funds. With UB.com’s traffic down more than 70% since the domains were seized in the middle of April it also seems as though UB.com will not recover and will probably go bankrupt. It was even reported that UB player accounts were being sold at 2+2 for just 40c to the dollar so bad is the trust of the Cereus network owners.
By far the biggest winners in the recent poker scandal were Sportsbook.com, Bodog and Carbon Poker who still remain open to US players. The Merge network has seen around a 30% increase in traffic since the FBI seizers, with Bodog up around 20%, sportsbook.com (before closing to US players on May 1st up 20%).
European rooms have similarly enjoyed growth in traffic however not as much as their US counterparts. Both Party Poker and 888 grew by around 5% as European players looked to play at more stable poker sites as did Titan Poker.