Surely, lots of people were given a wish for the year 2007 not to play a lousy trick on them. I don’t know whether somebody addressed the same wishes to the online gambling industry… But apparently, no one can say that the year turned out to be particularly successful. Let us have a look at what happened to online casinos and online poker the past year.
The problems started even earlier, in 2006, when the USA passed the law forbidding online casinos and online poker rooms accept gamblers from the USA, as well as financial institutes to serve gambling transactions of American citizens slot88. A lot of casinos and poker rooms closed their doors to American players at once, but as long as there were establishments where Americans were allowed in, it didn’t seem to be a crucial problem. In fact, serious troubles started in February, 2007, when two former senior managers and principal shareholders of Neteller Company were arrested in the usa.
Soon afterwards the accounts of Neteller with 55 million dollars were arrested, and the company had to refuse to work with Americans. “What does it have to do with poker”, you might ask. The matter is that Neteller was the basic and the most comfortable payment tool of American gamblers! Practically all the credit cards of American banks have not been working with online casinos and poker rooms for a long time now. Bank transfers from American banks cannot also be made or received, there is even a problem with cheques. As a result Americans have lost a possibility to make deposits or withdraw their winnings from online casinos and poker rooms. Straight after Neteller’s problems another e-wallet payment systems terminated the acceptance of new clients from the USA. Click2Pay, MoneyBookers and FirePay had split off even earlier. In fact only ePassport continued its operation, but they just could not cope with the overflow of casino players from the USA. All in all a lot of American gamblers had to finally leave online gambling establishments.
In america a lot of people hoped for counteraction of Antigua and European countries through the World Trade Organization against online casinos, some people dreamed of removal of a legislative ban at least for poker, but these dreams were not fated to come true. Instead, the Department of Justice (DoJ) moved aggressively against London-based BetonSports, which maintains operations in Costa Rica and Antigua aimed at U. S. gamblers. But the sites which still accept players from the USA have, certainly, shown growth. Thus, on the very eve of the New Year 2008 PokerStars announced about achievement of 150 000 poker players simultaneously, but still these growth rates are not more than 50 percent per year.
Curiously enough, the slowdown of online poker room players was also very noticeable offline. For the first time over many years at the main WSOP tournament there were fewer players than the previous year, at this, approximately 20 percent less. Earlier a large number of gamblers were presented by online poker rooms, but decrease in the number of American gamblers online, as well as tougher rules concerning the advertising of online poker rooms at the tournament resulted in the rooms being passive in involvement of gamblers for WSOP.
If everything is bad in america, than in Europe the situation is contradictory. On the one hand, the EU did not allow the Italians, trying to ban online casino games, to do it. A new law in great britain not only legalizes online wagering as well as allows advertising online casinos, however, the company should be licensed in the EU. In connection with this, Malta, which has become the centre of online companies in Europe, has a windfall and will manage to earn quite some money. On the other hand, Germany passed a law right on New Year’s Eve which banned online casino games and their advertising, though, everybody considers that the EU will make the German repeal the law in question. For quite a while there are rumours in the air that Norway will ban online casino games, Turkey, though it is not quite a European country but it has also imposed a ban.
As for online poker, there was a rift within online poker rooms awaiting for its resolution. For the first time fraud in an online poker room was proved and accepted (to be more exact, not the room itself, but of one of its senior managers). Absolute Poker confessed that one of the managers gained access to the players’ cards (he knew all the pocket cards, but not the cards which drop out at the flop/turn/river). He shared this information with his partner who managed to win a big tournament. To prove everything was possible due to a mere mistake in sending of the history which was received by another participant of the disastrous tournament. Absolute Poker made an investigation, promised to refund losses to all those who suffered and toughen the security system. Though, Absolute Poker cheating scandal has caused damage not only for a poker-room, as well as the industry as a whole, however, this blow is not deadly.
From the technical point of view, the past year has not brought anything new. The mobile poker, 3D-poker, are being gradually developed, but all this appeared even earlier. Online poker rooms actively create versions not to be downloaded, add new games, improve the interface, add new methods of payment and change table sizes.
What is awaiting us in the course of the year 2008 which has set in? I doubt whether it is worthwhile waiting for a breakthrough. The period of heavy growth in online gambling industry has already terminated, the period of consolidation is coming, the time of struggle for new casino players. Poker networks will continue to grow (both as regards the number of rooms and gamblers), evidently, there will be mergers and takeovers. Advertising budgets will grow, but players will hardly be able to make a profit out of it – casino bonus conditions will most probably worsen. The level of gamblers will slowly but surely grow, most likely, so that the competition will grow at tables. Hopefully, you won’t suffer from all these trends, I wish you success in game and happy year!