The Ongame Network, once such a pioneering and dominant force on the online poker landscape, is set to close for good on October 15th, according to a report by Russian poker news portal Pokeroff.ru.
According to Pokeroff, the network’s customers were informed of the closure via email earlier this month.
We have been unable to confirm the news. No official statement from Ongame has been forthcoming and Ongame players, who should have received the Ongame closure emails, are thin on details, which appears to be the problem.
That wasn’t always the case, of course. When it changed its name to Ongame, from PokerRoom, in 2005, it had 3.5 million registered players on the network, making it one of the biggest networks in the world at the time.
PokerRoom itself was one of the very first online poker rooms, established in 1999 by poker players Oskar Hörnell and Claes Lidell, who also began to develop other sites, such as EuroPoker, the network that would become Ongame. It was also one of the first online poker networks to cater to Macs as well as PCs.
In December 2005 it was acquired by BETandWIN, which became bwin, for around €473.6 million, which is $531 million at today’s exchange rate. But nine months later, the US Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, and BETandWIN pulled Ongame out of the US. Its liquidity took a huge hit, from which it never really recovered.
When bwin merged with Party Gaming in 2012, it encouraged Ongame’s players to migrate to Party Poker, before ultimately selling it to Amaya.
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In November last year Ongame was acquired by Swedish gaming group NYX, which declared at the time that it had purchased “one of the best poker products in the industry,” which would give it “access to products that are regulated in several jurisdictions, and more importantly a talent pool that can help grow all parts of our business.”
Except that it didn’t. Instead, it blasted a seven-figure hole in NYX’s quarterly earnings, and meanwhile, liquidity continued to diminish. In April this year, NYX said it would sell the European-facing part of the network to a mystery company described only as “a partner with proven experience in the industry,” while retaining exclusive rights to use the Ongame product in North America.
Whether that deal went through or not is unclear. It seems, now, unlikely, because, if the reports are true, it now looks like the endgame for Ongame.