Ongame Online Poker Network Set to Close October 15th

Ongame Poker Network to Close

Is it over for Ongame? Reports from a Russian poker news portal suggest the industry pioneer could cease to exist next month. (Image: Ongame)

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.

Industry Pioneer

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.

This was Amaya’s first stab at operating an online poker network, but in 2014 it acquired PokerStars and Full Tilt, creating a crowded field of online poker networks under the Amaya banner.

From Pillar to Post

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.

Philip Conneller
Written by
Philip Conneller
As part of the team that launched Bluff Magazine back in 2004, and then as Editor of Bluff Europe, Philip Conneller has (probably) written thousands of articles about poker and has travelled the globe interviewing the greatest players in the world, not to mention some of the sexiest celebrities known to man in some of the world’s sexiest destinations. The highlight of his career, however, was asking Phil Ivey (as a joke) how to play jacks, and emerging none-the-wiser. Philip once won $20,000 with 7-2 offsuit. He has been told off for unwittingly playing Elton John’s piano on two separate occasions, on different sides of the Atlantic Ocean. He became a writer because he is a lousy pianist. He lives in London where he spends his time agonizing about Arsenal football club, yet in Wenger he trusts.

Comments

skaterick wrote...

has Full Flush closed too ? what is happening with that site ?

Poker Orifice wrote...

another one from the old days… sigh 🙁
skaterick, pretty sure this wouldn’t be the spot to inquire about fullflush (completely different)…. but fwiw, I haven’t heard about it going down the toilet

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