PokerStars Provides Update (Barely) on 2017 VIP Changes

At the start of 2016, PokerStars made some unpopular changes to its popular VIP program; in 2017 it plans to revamp the program entirely. Until then, what exactly the new system will look like remains a mystery. On Friday, the world’s largest online poker room e-mailed players to give them an update on what was to come, except that it wasn’t really much of an update at all.

Most of the information was already provided in an update to customers in September. There has still been no date provided for when the brand new loyalty program will be launched. All we know is that it will be sometime in 2017 and players will receive at least two months notice.

Beginning January 1st, 2017, as the poker room explained earlier this fall, Supernova will become a month-by-month status achievement. Currently, players have the entire year to complete the necessary steps to achieve Supernova status and once a player reaches that status, he keeps it until the end of the year. In anticipation of the new program next year, players who hit Supernova in 2016 will keep their status into 2017, up until the new loyalty program is put in place. Supernova players will earn 28 percent in rewards in the month-to-month system; they currently earn 28% to 30%.

PokerStars had not explained how the different VIP statuses will achieved in the mysterious new system, though it has said that players can move up the ranks by playing in the poker room, casino, or sportsbook. Playing all of them is not necessary, though PokerStars said it would certainly help.

The one revelation that PokerStars did make in this weekend’s email was that anyone whose account is dormant for six months will lose their StarsCoins. The reactions to this have mostly been negative in the poker community, as it seems like an unnecessarily punitive action on the part of PokerStars. Some don’t find it to be a big deal, as players who are absent for six months are generally going to be recreational players who probably won’t have many StarsCoins to make much of a difference. But most people figure that it is just a – to put it simply – mean thing to do. It’s not like it is unusual, either – many online poker rooms have had policies like this over the years. I even lost actual money from one of my accounts after not playing for a long time.

The motivation behind the StarsCoin move could be to improve the balance sheet of parent company Amaya. On Amaya’s second quarter financial statement, there is $87.104 million categorized as “Other Payables.” Of this, $51.846 million is listed as “Customer coins.” Amaya describes these coins as follows:

The customer coins relate to loyalty programs operated by the B2C business for its customers, which involves awarding customer coins, i.e., loyalty points, based on amounts wagered and gameplay. The customer coins can be used to make a wide variety of purchases (including entry into tournaments) in lieu of cash or can be exchanged for cash. The Corporation maintains sufficient overhead in cash and investments to cover the estimated future customer coin liability.

The entire PokerStars update e-mail is below:

In a blog post earlier this year, we announced that in 2017 (date still to be determined), we will launch a new and exciting rewards program that recognises your play on PokerStars, Full Tilt, PokerStars Casino and BetStars (where available).

We are committed to keeping you updated as the details are finalized, and want to share with you what we can, when we can. In that spirit, here’s the latest:

VIP Club Changes

The current VIP Club program will remain in effect until the launch of the new program, and rewards will be unchanged on January 1, 2017, for monthly status players. Supernova will become a monthly status, and will offer 28% in rewards. Here’s an overview of next year’s VIP Club changes:

•    Monthly VIP status rewards and requirements will remain unchanged
•    Supernova VIPs will earn 28% in rewards
•    Players who achieve Supernova status in 2016 will retain Supernova status until the launch of the new rewards program in 2017
•    For players who don’t achieve Supernova status this year, Supernova will have a monthly status requirement of 10,000 VPPs
•    When the new program launches, existing VIP statuses will be replaced by the program’s new reward mechanisms
•    An announcement of the new rewards program launch date will be made at least two months in advance
•    Effective July 1, 2017, StarsCoin balances will expire for players who have been inactive on all Stars platforms (PokerStars, Full Tilt, PokerStars Casino, BetStars) over a 6-month rolling period

What’s next?

Expect our next update to include more details regarding the new loyalty program, including how it will work and the timing of the launch.

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