The State of the Online Poker Industry & My Conference Report
This past weekend I've been in London for a Poker Conference where 500 people who promote poker join together with representatives and executives from the vast majority of the online poker rooms and casinos
Believe it or not, the idea of the conference was more business than pleasure to most people, but you'd be suprised from the parties that were thrown there. Gnuf (a new room), Tila (a "myspace celeb" turned poker room host) & Bodog threw huge parties at some of the most exclusive locations in London. Gnufs party was in the Royal Exchange shopping center (next door the Bank of England), Tila's was in the
Embassy Club in Mayfair (you'll know the area if you play UK style monopoly) and Bodog hosted a party in Cafe de Paris in Picaddilly. All the parties were thoroughly enjoyable, with open bars and plenty of great people to chat to, everyone had a great time. It was great to get others in the industry drunk and then ask them some questions which they wouldn't have otherwise answered
Despite all of the fun (and the 8 hours combined sleep in 4 days), I actually attended for two main reasons:
1) To see what the big players and authority figures in the industry thought about the situation in the US and the future.
2) To meet with the representatives of the poker rooms to pick their brains and to build relationships with them so that CC can get better deals and promotions for you guys.
During the two days I listened to a number of speakers and spoke to many people who were heavily involved in the online poker industry. The overall feel of the conference was:
1) Europe and Asia is a hot online poker market right now, and any slow down in US fish is easily being compensated for in those areas.
2) There is likely to be more bad news before there is long-term good news in the US.
3) Overall there is lots of optimism, about both the US political situation and also in terms of payment processors.
On the US front there are a few points of interest. First of all, right now one particular representative of the state is fighting to have the Bill that makes online gambling illegal in Washington sent to a hearing to try and "correct an element from last year’s online gambling bill, Senate Bill 6613, that made it a Class C Felony to gamble recreationally in one’s own home if it is done online".
Not only that, but a very respected authority figure gave a speech in which he said he had attended a Gaming meeting with representatives from many of the states in the US and when speaking privately to some of them, they had revealed plans to make a move to legalise online gambling in these states. Granted, these are some of the biggest states in the US, and it would probably make a huge difference in terms of campaigning on a national scale, but these sort of changes will take some time to implement.
In terms of payment processors, I spoke privately with many of the rooms. Fulltilt actually released a new payment processor while we were there, called WireCard, which from the quick look that I've had at it, looks pretty good. They also said they are planning on launching other ones soon.
Now, when the whole Neteller
situation arose, I personally thought Bodog would be the one to come out with an industry-leading payment processor. So far they have released Nucharge which seems average, but they have told me that they have numerous people flying around the world non-stop trying to secure deals with new payment processors.
I also heard rumours that one poker site
had set-up a similar operation to Neteller which would have launched last week except for the middle man pulling out (unfortunately somewhere it has to go through some type of US banking system).
Overall, from what I have gathered, I'm pretty confident within the next month or so there will more than enough payment solutions available for players to use, and in the mean time you can use prepaid visa
cards which you can buy from your local store such as Walmart. I've yet to hear them not working at any site yet. In terms of withdrawals, cheques are still a fine option.
During the trip I met with many cool people including Martin from CostaDelPoker, the CEO of DreamPoker and tons of other people who work for the poker rooms themselves. It's great to finally put faces to people who you've emailed back and forth for over 2 years. I had a great time, and I've gained a lot of inspiration for work on Cardschat. So with your help, lets all have a very happy 2007.