The Winning Poker Network (WPN), which along with the Merge network has the lion’s share of the offshore US online poker market, has announced its withdrawal from the newly-regulated US states. The company announced that players from New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada will no longer be play real money poker at the network’s skins, which include Americas Cardroom and True Poker, from immediate effect. Only US players who live in areas with no licensing or regulation will be able to access the real-money network. However, WPN has said that players based in the three states will have access to their accounts in order to withdraw their funds.
Taking on the US
It’s an unexpected move from a network that has long prided itself on offering online poker to people from all markets, regardless of the legality within those markets. WPN began life as Americas Cardroom way back in 2001 and was once one of the dominant poker rooms before being eclipsed by PokerStars and PartyPoker.
In 2004 Americas Card Room merged with BetCris and joined the OnGame Network, but with the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act in 2006, it was faced within the decision of whether or not to remain in the US market. While OnGame backed out of America, Americas Cardroom resolved to stay put, merging with True Poker to form the Yahatay Poker Network.
As even more sites fled in the wake of Black Friday, Yatahay dug its heels in further and went after the disenfranchised US market. It acquired Doyles Room following its closure a month after Black Friday, took over its assets and player base and adopted its software. A year later it became the Winning Poker Network.
As an offshore site that accepts US wagers, it has been praised for its payment processing options and reliable cash-outs, particularly when compared with its competitor Lock Poker, which has been heavily criticized for the backlog of funds owed to its players.
Smoke and Mirrors?
In a statement released this week, Michael Harris, a spokesperson for Americas Cardroom said: “Our goal at Americas Cardroom is to build a poker community where players come first. But we also strive to play fairly. As a result, our network has decided to stop serving players in New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware due to the availability of a regulated poker market in those states.
“We’re growing extremely rapidly outside of the three regulated markets, so players can expect to see lots of action at the tables and guarantees that surpass what’s promised,” he added.
It seems that WPN feels it can’t compete with the regulated markets and may want to avoid legal troubles further down the line. However, when you consider that the execs of licensed site Ultimate Poker have described the challenges they faced in creating effective geo-location software, one wonders whether WPN actually have the technology in place to pull this off.
And at least one forum poster has questioned the veracity of WPN’s announcement. Posting on PocketFives.com, Nevadan Steve Brogan, a customer of the WPN skin Black Chip Poker, claimed he was informed by the site’s customer services that the new rules only related to new customers from Nevada, and that he would be permitted to continue playing because they could change his location to California on their database. If this is true, no doubt similar claims will be appearing on the forums soon, and WPN will be required to make a statement. We will keep you up to date.