All pretty much anyone wants to talk about these days is the U.S. government’s online poker shutdown. And that’s understandable. But it’s not the only igaming story to grab headlines this week. So, here’s a rundown of what else is happening in the casino affiliate marketing world.

U.S.-friendly Merge poker network now dominant; expanding
Now the largest online poker network accepting U.S. players, the Merge poker network has expanded: AWH Poker now makes its home on Merge, per CardPlayer.com. “The company joins popular rooms such as Carbon Poker and Lock Poker on the U.S-friendly network meaning it can now accept players from North America.”

Ladbrokes and 888 call off merger plans
The long-anticipated potential merger between two big UK gaming brands, Ladbrokes and 888, is apparently not moving forward, company officials have announced.

“It was very amicable between us but at the end of the day I simply decided it was not in the interests of shareholders,” Ladbrokes chief executive Richard Glynn told Israel’s Globes.

Is this really over, though? “You can never say never with anything,” Glynn added.

Iowa to study online gambling
Iowa lawmakers eliminated a provision in an existing bill that would have allowed online gambling in that state, but it’s not completely a lost cause. A newly passed bill requires “the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission to study Internet gambling and produce a report for the legislative session that begins in January 2012,” reports Iowa’s Quad City Times.

Nevada bill still alive
Despite the legal tainting of chief advocate PokerStars, the legislation in Nevada to legalize online gambling is not only still alive, but “it’s probably headed for the governor’s desk,” notes Steve Sebelius at the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

“In any other state, the bill would have perished under the weight of controversy,” Sebelius confidently writes. “But this is Nevada, soon to be U.S. headquarters of online poker.”

Bwin.Party slumps again, William Hill up
The stock bounce enjoyed earlier this week by the “absurdly named” Bwin.Party hasn’t lasted long.

“Shares in the gambling group … fell heavily on Thursday after Investec … warned investors they should not to read too heavily into recent events across the pond” and changed its rating for the company from “hold” to “sell”, reports the UK Telegraph.

Meanwhile, the UK’s biggest bookmaker, William Hill, is seeing surging stock prices. The company, which takes a million bets a day, reported that online net revenues were up a whopping 26 percent in this year’s first quarter.

Unibet Open Satellites announced
Season three of the Unibet Open hits the ‘net again “with the second EUR300 + EUR20 buy in Unibet Open Online (UOO) on May 15, 2011 at 19:00 CET,” Unibet reps have announced. Affiliates who focus on marketing tournaments should note that daily qualifiers for this event are going on right now. (Unibet Affiliates is a CAP Listed Program.)

Intertops announces Easter promo, May Day freeroll
UK-based online poker site (and CAP Listed Program) Intertops Poker still accepts U.S. players, and is rolling out some promos to help entice them over. The site is offering a $2,500 Easter Frequent Player Point Race promo that lasts until April 30 and a $1,000 Depositor Freeroll on May 1. Get the details here.

Euro Partners courting new affiliates, too
Competitor to both Unibet and Intertops, CAP Listed Program Euro Partners doesn’t accept U.S. players. But the company is still rolling out enticing promos on its online poker sites in the hopes of winning over some non-U.S. players turned off by the changes to their favorite sites (like the loss of the big-spending American competition).

And those promos are designed specifically for affiliates: “Euro Partners is offering poker affiliates an increased 60% revenue share deal on all newly referred poker traffic, as well as several aggressive promotional offers to help in attracting players,” company reps note. Get the full details here.


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