Surely, lots of people were given a wish for the year 2007 not to play a lousy trick on them. I don’t know whether somebody addressed the same wishes to the online gambling industry… But apparently, no one can say that the year turned out to be particularly successful. Let us have a look at what happened to online casinos and online poker the past year.
The problems started even earlier, in 2006, when the USA passed the law forbidding online casinos and online poker rooms accept gamblers from the USA, as well as financial institutes to serve gambling transactions of American citizens. A lot of casinos and poker rooms closed their doors to American players at once, but as long as there were establishments where Americans were allowed in, it didn’t seem to be a crucial problem. In fact, serious troubles started in February, 2007, when two former senior managers and principal shareholders of Neteller Company were arrested in the USA. Soon afterwards the accounts of Neteller with 55 million dollars were arrested, and the company had to refuse to work with Americans. “What does it have to do with poker”, you might ask. The matter is that Neteller was the basic and the most comfortable payment tool of American gamblers! Practically all the credit cards of American banks have not been working with online casinos and poker rooms for a long time now. Bank transfers from American banks cannot also be made or received, there is even a problem with cheques. As a result Americans have lost a possibility to make deposits or withdraw their winnings from online casinos and poker rooms. Straight after Neteller’s problems another e-wallet payment systems terminated the acceptance of new clients from the USA. Click2Pay, MoneyBookers and FirePay had split off even earlier. In fact only ePassport continued its operation, but they just could not cope with the overflow of casino players from the USA. All in all a lot of American gamblers had to finally leave online gambling establishments.
In America a lot of people hoped for counteraction of Antigua and European countries through the World Trade Organization against online casinos, some people dreamed of removal of a legislative ban at least for poker, but these dreams were not fated to come true. Instead, the Department of Justice (DoJ) moved aggressively against London-based BetonSports, which maintains operations in Costa Rica and Antigua aimed at U.S. gamblers.
WTO hardly trying to hide “the real face of free trade” awarded the affected countries “sixpenny” compensation, not in the least connected with gambling business (for example, Antigua was allowed to “pirate” with American intellectual property to the amount of 21 million dollars per year, though the companies’ losses run into hundreds of millions). Individual law-makers prompted by various organizations such as Poker Players Alliance (ÐÐÀ), tried to propose amendments to the law, but it ended in talks and news lines. There is no serious advance as regards legalization of online poker games (all the more so online casino games), and is hardly expected in the near future.
As a result, if earlier online poker rooms grew at an extremely huge rate (doubling every six months), then in the year 2007 there was a turnaround to a sort of stagnation. Online poker rooms which ceased to accept American players did not recover the old level (but for, perhaps, the iPoker network which bought a couple of other European leading networks). SportingBet had to close whatsoever one of the formerly most popular online poker rooms – Paradise Poker.