Bovada Stops New Player Signups from Nevada, Delaware
Bovada’s decision in recent days to stop signing up new players from the US states of Nevada and Delaware continues a trend by the largest remaining “offshore” online-poker sites still serving Americans to withdraw from states where the game is formally and authorized and regulated.
Bovada, which operates as a skin on the Bodog network and is a separate brand name devoted exclusively to the United States market, has already taken a similar stance in New Jersey the third (of 50) US states where the playing of online poker is available through state-authorized sites.
In terms of international sites that serve American players, the Bodog-Bovada network is easily the largest remaining in the post-Black Friday era. Traffic-tracking site PokerScout estimates Bodog as the seventh-largest online network (Bodog doesn’t allow third-party sites to directly monitor its traffic), while the next largest, with perhaps only a third of Bodog-Bovada’s traffic.
As of mid-June, Merge checks in at 16th on PokerScout’s list, based on cash-game players, and after that the dropoff continues: The Chico Network ranks 26th, the Winning Poker Network is down a bit more at 29th, the Equity Poker Network is currently ranked 36th, the Lock-less Revolution Network has dropped to 40th, and the Bitcoin-only site SealsWithClubs is listed at 44th. Beyond that there are a few startups and tiny operations, none of which offers significant player traffic.
It’s a meager collection, a sure sign that American online-poker traffic remains splintered, caught in a “wait and see” mode. But what is interesting is that the largest of these remaining offshore sites are fairly uniform in not serving US states where state-regulated alternatives exist.
Let’s run down the list of the top six networks, not counting SWC. Since SWC is a Bitcoin-based site, players are able to log on and play anonymously. As such, SWC doesn’t block players from any jurisdiction. The Chico Network (once known as the Action Poker Network) is also something of an aberration, since only some of its sites accept US players, and the network itself is attempting to rebuild its reputation after changing ownership; the network nearly failed in 2012, leaving players’ funds endangered, but has reorganized itself and struggled on.
Here’s the list of states blocked by each of the networks.
Bovada (Bodog): Delaware, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York.
Merge Network (Carbon Poker and others): Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Utah, Washington State, District of Columbia.
Chico Network: (unstated at present time)
Winning Poker Network: Delaware, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, Washington, District of Columbia
Equity Poker Network: Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Utah, Virginia, Washington State, District of Columbia.
Revolution Poker Network: indeterminate, but not known to be accepting players from Delaware, Kentucky, Missouri, New Jersey or Nevada at last report. Following the departure of the sinking Lock Poker, the remainder of the Revolution Network appears to be operated by owners connected with Intertops, the oldest and most reputable of the other Revolution sites. The Intertops-connected ownership group appears to be operating the network on an invitation-only basis, regarding new US players.
And that’s the list. It means that, with the possible exception of the Chico Network, it’s a clean sweep in these remaining networks in avoiding US states that have formally set up their own online-poker jurisdictions.
The exodus of these networks from the Nevada-New Jersey-Delaware troika was catalyzed by the cease-and-desist notice sent by New Jersey authorities to a half dozen US-based online affiliates in late March. All that really did, however, was speed up the process.
One can look at the list of other states listed blocked by some of the states and see the same pattern. Washington State, New York, Kentucky, Maryland… these have been other “trouble” states for offshore poker sites, either involved in cash or domain seizures or in passing of laws banning the game for its residents.
When the NV/NJ/DE threesome passed its laws regulating online poker, they also implemented severe penalties for unlicensed operators. Given the ability of other states and federal authorities to conduct these “long arm” seizures, it made leaving these troublesome states a rather easy choice for the networks to make.