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barbadosslim93's picture
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2 August 2011 - 2:29am

Offshore Casinos Running Away From US Market; Will They Come Back?

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The events of Black Friday have been horrible to anyone that considers themselves an online gambler. For American players it has become even worse. For us, many of the casinos we have used as a home base for online gambling have gone dark. The casinos have decided that it is too hard to continue trying to find payment processors that work; or have decided they don't want to chance the wrath of the US Department of Justice, and have decided to pull out of the American market.

It really is slim pickings for us in the States, and within the past few weeks I have seen English Harbour (my main go to casino) close down, and found out that Bodog is going to be leaving us at the end of the year. I have also seen one of my sportsbooks, BetJamaica close down as well. This is all in spite of the fact that many are thinking that the USA is about to legalize and regulate online gambling. While this may be true, I have begun thinking to myself: If online gambling is eventually legalized in the States, will those companies that have abandoned us come back? Will there be a place for them? Will we take them back?

I can honestly see a big company like Bodog having no problem coming back to the US market. The reasoning behind the pullout is to disassociate itself from the perception that it is engaging in "shady" gambling practices within the American market, making Bodog seem like a more reputable company to the Brits and Asian customers it is licensed in. I can understand this and respect it as a wise business decision. The last thing you want your customers is to think that you are involved in a potentially illegal industry (look what happened to Full Tilt Poker if you want to see what happens when a big company does something illegal quickly). Bodog has branded itself in the United States to where even though they are not going to be actively conducting gambling operations, people will remember the brand. If online gambling is ever legalized here, my bet is that you will see Bodog among the first companies jumping back into the market.

It gets a little trickier when you get to smaller (albeit profitable and established) companies such as English Harbour. A company that runs primarily offshore is going to have a harder time getting set up in America after online gambling becomes legalized. I have to imagine that land based casino operators in America are going to have first dibs at a online gaming license, and the fees to enter the market are going to be heavy. Even though English Harbour was around since 1997, there is no certainty that they would be able to afford the costs of entering the market. Imagine the fees for getting a license, and then the money they are going to have to spend to market themselves against casinos groups with billions of dollars. The only way I can see a smaller group of offshore casinos like an English Harbour being able to enter the market is if they can overcome obstacles such as these. Then there is an x-factor of the government putting the squeeze on offshore companies that were operating "Illegally" during the UIGEA years. Would they impose a penalty for companies like these, even if they want to enter the market legally? I am not sure, but I think that it won't be easy for smaller groups to join in.

And even if the casino groups we used to play at ARE able to enter the American market, will we still want to play with them? By this I mean: They walked out on us. Sometimes they didn't really even give us jack squat in terms of advance notice that they were leaving. I really could care less to play at a casino like this, and they are going to have even more competition should things become legal here. What have those casino groups done to earn my loyalty? Leaving us naked in the wind doesn't make me feel great about your casino group, and if say an English Harbour DOES come back, I will be very reluctant to play there...especially if say an MGM or big money casino group is an option with licensed games.

What do you think? Will any of these companies that have closed their doors to us Yankees come crawling back when we get things finally straightened out? Will you play at those casinos that left you? I want your opinions.

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hope777's picture
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3 August 2011 - 3:47am

Would I play at casinos that left me? Well, as you say, there are so many variables here. I guess if I really liked the place, missed the place, and/or felt a certain loyalty to them, I would. However, by then (assuming U.S. is now legal) there will be so many more options, I may not. As of now, I do not have one casino that I enjoy over the other. They all have pretty much the same, exact games, and the one that I really liked, had the best tournaments and gave out the very best comps and VIP program has gone under, so the ones I have left are all cut from the same cloth: have the same, exact games and similar deals and specials. So, assuming there are now even more choices, once U.S. legalizes, it would probably be doubtful that I would return unless they made some kind of great offer that I could not refuse, lol.

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3 August 2011 - 6:43am

A quick tip on Bodog. I have been told that they are effectively just renaming themselves due to their licensing agreement with the parent Bodog company expiring, and they will continue to operate for U.S. players, albeit under a different name.

Nevada legalised poker a few weeks ago and they are waiting for a Federal go-ahead, so the ducks are lining up, especially with the basket case economy and shenanigans we've seen in the last week, and the need for revenue. Here is what I think will happen if the USA legalises and regulates online casinos. Looking into my crystal ball...

  1. The land-based heavyweights will enter the market and start aggressively marketing, especially to their databases of players who hold player cards from playing at their land venues.
  2. The European online heavyweights will re-enter too. Brands like 32 Red,, Party Gaming, Betfair and many more will be back in an instant. They will be serious competition to the land-based casinos, and many of the land-based interests will probably partner with a company like these to benefit from their online expertise.
  3. The current "small fry" casinos that handle US customers will continue to operate, and many that left will try to re-enter. It will be interesting to see if the US government still pursues the same draconian payment processing measures against unlicensed sites. If not, the environment might actually be better for them. However most will fail dismally due to competition from the aforementioned big fish, both in terms of player preference and marketing budgets. The bottom line is why would you risk your money at an unlicensed and unregulated casino with unknown financial backing when you could play at Harrah's or Wynn's or WMS or Party Gaming or 32 Red etc?


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8 August 2011 - 6:04pm

hey hope777, if i correctly remember you're from the US ,aren't you? I still think that the problem is that everybody wants to play poker online, but nobody voices up. However, I agree on wat you commented above, I'd do the same