Two Merge Gaming Skins, Overbet.com and Iron Duke, have unexpectedly closed in the past week after a couple months of stability for the network.
The Overbet.com website has posted a message stating that the skin has been purchased by a third party and that player funds are safe. The IronDuke website remains operational, but it has released a similar message to its current players and potential new players. Both websites have advised players to move to the preferred partners of the Merge Gaming Network: Players Only, Sportsbook, and Carbon. Although player funds remain safe, VIP points will not be able to be redeemed or transferred to another site.
The close of Overbet and Iron Duke signals the further decline of the Merge Gaming Network in the increasingly stringent United States market. Several skins have closed their doors or have moved onto other networks, including Lock Poker, Black Chip Poker, RPM Poker, and most recently, Hero Poker. The Network has experienced peak traffic of 1282 in the past 24 hours and recent PokerScout data has not shown a big increase from this number. Despite its losses, the Merge Gaming Network remains the 3rd most popular site for US players behind the Revolution Gaming Network and Bovada/Bodog.
The Merge Gaming Network has been steadily declining since its peak during the aftermath of the Black Friday indictments. Throughout the past two years, the Network has undergone major changes to remain relevant in the constantly evolving US online poker. These changes have included the switch from rakeback, the loss of major sites like Lock Poker, and the constant change in payment processing. The network might also lose another skin in the near future as PokerView has been soliciting potential buyers in the past month.
Although the recently closed sites have not offered any reason for the abrupt departures, sources have speculated that the lack of revenue and the support for the “preferred partners” have led to decline of smaller skins within the network. Nevertheless, the closing of two more skins has become signs of tough times for the Merge Gaming Network.