The Merge Poker Network today moved to block further USA sign-ups, reportedly for a period of 4-6 weeks. Rumors had been circulating that the blocking of US players from Merge might be coming, but today its official.
The block of USA players at Merge comes on the heels of an overwhelming wave of new player sign-ups post black Friday, and this temporary ban will give the network time to process all the new sign-ups. American players who already have Merge Poker accounts are still able to play for real money, deposit and withdraw normally.
On Friday, April 15th, which came to be known as Black Friday, USA players were blocked from playing on the three largest poker networks, PokerStars, Full Tilt, and AP/UB. In the last 30 days Merge Poker Network, which includes such sites as RPM Poker, Carbon Poker and Lock Poker, received many new American players who had left those other sites. Too many in fact, so Merge is taking this time to make arrangements for its growing customer base.
Secondly this move by Merge is thought to be somewhat precautionary. After Black Friday, the US government, on May 23rd, closed various other sites including Doyle’s Room, and True Poker. The Merge Poker network has made a series of coordinated changes to keep their operations running smoothly.
A few weeks ago Merge blocked new sign-ups from New York State, Michigan, Louisiana and Maryland. Now, for the time being, Merge has blocked all fifty states. Hopefully Merge has learned from the missteps of the other major online poker sites.
Based in Australia, part of Merge’s actions could be related to a recent statement by the Australian Crime Commission which made a public statement to the government that action had to be taken against Australia’s online poker sites. Australia has several laws on the books against online gaming, but there is a gray area, and apparently Merge is trying to steer clear of it, by acting pre-emptively.
Now it appears that Bodog will be the main site set up to cater to American players. That is until Merge makes some sort of announcement that American play is back on.
In Europe and other regions of the world, online poker is clicking away as usual. Having proven that regulated poker is possible and profitable, the question is, what’s next for the American poker scene? Hopefully some good news is coming down the pipes soon in the form of federally regulated poker sites.