The decline in player traffic has reached eight straight weeks, a streak that many in the online poker industry are hoping will one day shift in a positive direction.
PokerScout reports that the loss was a mere 0.1% last week, which is negligible and perhaps indicates better things to come in future weekly updates. In comparison to this time last year, 12% fewer players are logging on in 2014.
Another $5 million landed in the pockets of U.S. Full Tilt players on April Fools Day when the Garden City Group released more cash to petitioners who had previously provided the claims administrator with bank account information that couldn’t be validated. About 2,200 such claimants got their act together and submitted the proper bank info to GCG, which resulted in a long-awaited payday.
By the looks of player traffic numbers, not enough of that fresh $5 million has found its way to U.S. online poker sites. With U.S. income tax returns due next week, perhaps those ex-Full Tilters are preparing to pay Uncle Sam with their reunited funds instead of sitting down at a $5/10 cash game at Bovada, WPN or Merge.
Speaking of Merge, that U.S.-friendly network officially lost Poker Host to the Equity Poker Network. News of the network switch had been leaked in March, but the deal wasn’t sealed until today. The transition means that player traffic in coming weeks will likely continue to climb at EPN, while Merge will naturally drop.
Merge and the Chico Poker Network both currently enjoy a seven-day average of 300 cash players, good for a third place tie among U.S.-facing poker rooms and networks. Bodog/Bovada and the Winning Poker Network are 1-2 in the rankings, with EPN fifth at 170 ring game players.
While EPN is on the way up, so is Unibet, whose estimated cash player traffic has now been revised from 300 to 550 by PokerScout. However, the independent player traffic-tracking site warns that numbers at Unibet may drop once the novelty of joining an exciting new poker room wears off. PokerScout has been tracking player numbers since 2006 and has seen such trends before.
Also seen by PokerScout has been a 15% drop in player traffic at SealsWithClubs. The Bitcoin-only poker room’s decline may be due to China deciding to do away with the accounts of exchanges centered around the virtual currency. The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) ruled that Bitcoin is a commodity, not a currency, which led to the digital currency/commodity losing 25% of its worth.
As a result of the PBOC ruling, Bitcoin exchanges will be shuttered in the world’s most populous country, likely effective April 15. Most online poker players remember that date in history for other reasons, with the three-year anniversary of Black Friday just one week away.
From China we travel to Russia, a country that Betfair has elected to no longer accept any new players from effective April 11. That announcement was made to affiliates following the recent release of a blacklist by Russian authorities that included more than four dozen gaming sites. While other poker sites on the blacklist continue to operate in Russia, the future is unknown and further developments down the road may eventually have an adverse effect on player traffic.
Cash game traffic among the top ten poker rooms and networks jostled slightly last week. Bodog/Bovada slipped from seventh into a tie for eighth place with PokerStars.es, while Winamax managed to slide into seventh place. The other seven slots within the top ten remained in the same positions as the week before.