Starting in early 2011, America’s estimated 60 million internet poker players will have a new, legal place to earn their online keep.
ChiliGaming, an online company currently operating on French soil, is gearing up for the launch of a US version of their poker software. Already one of the most popular gaming providers in Europe, Chili’s entry into the stateside market has set the industry abuzz.
“We are very excited about this new dimension to our business,” says CEO Alexandre Dreyfus. “Our economies of scale will help this be a strong mechanism for further growth and it will help fill the void that exists in markets where online gaming is restricted and consumers want to play poker. In markets where we operate online gaming, this new product will provide consumers with more choice.”
So, with America’s government still mired in debate over the status of online poker, how can this new operation be considered “legal”? The answer, it turns out, is an old one. Despite the repeal of Prohibition in the early 1930’s, there are still several “dry counties” scattered across America, which prohibit establishments from selling liquor. Establishments may, however, charge a membership fee to their patrons, which classifies them as a private organization, which therefore puts them outside of the government’s jurisdiction.
This is exactly the route that ChiliPoker is planning to take. The company is expected to model their client after that of PurePlay, a members-only gaming club that charges a monthly fee of $19.99 to its users. A portion of this cash will go toward funding the tournament pots at ChiliPoker, meaning that players are, at no time during their sessions, playing with real currency at the online tables. The only way for a player to draw an actual payday from their membership fee is to cash in an event.
Think of it as paying a monthly fee, and then getting to play all of the real money freerolls you can handle. This, of course, comes at a price. In the PurePlay model, players are allowed to play an unlimited amount of tournaments. However, there are no ring games or sit and goes, making it much harder to draw a playing profit. Can ChiliPoker solve this problem? Only time will tell.
Once the government finalizes their regulation of online poker, ChiliGaming feels that they will be in prime position to earn a license, due to the fact that they have never technically accepted bets from American gamers.