U.S. Internet poker crunch: What should affiliates do?
It hasn’t even been a week since the FBI government forced the world’s four biggest online poker sites out of U.S. borders, but the industry is already coping with the change and looking toward the future.
What happened? Read about it here.
With volumes of content written in the past days about the shutdown, let’s take a look at possible implications for the poker players and affiliates who are understandably pretty worried at the moment.
U.S. online poker pros in crisis
Perhaps the biggest impact for affiliates is the sheer loss of players no longer able to access the world’s most popular poker sites. For many Americans who make a living, or at least supplement their income, with online poker, that’s a pretty big deal.
“The crackdown has also disrupted the lives of the thousands of individuals that rely on online poker for part or all of their income,” as The Hill notes. “That group includes not only professional gamblers but also programmers who create analytics and other tools as well as the backers who finance many of the full-time players.”
And that includes affiliate marketers.
So — should we be worried?
What can affiliates do?
First of all, take a deep breath — affiliate marketing for online poker in the U.S. is not illegal. By marketing poker sites to U.S. players, you’ve broken no laws. So let’s not start panicking.
As Eli Lehrer puts it, “the major losers appear to be players who broke no law by any account.
“The United States has no law that prohibits engaging in online gambling and, while there are some very burdensome banking regulations intended to discourage companies interest in providing online casino gaming, the only federal laws about gambling per se apply only to sports betting.”
That’s why, even now, prosecutors aren’t targeting players — they’re still working through the financial system. When they couldn’t stop financial companies from processing payments that go to offshore online gambling sites, they targeted the owners of those sites with financial fraud.
That means, then, that the U.S. Department of Justice doesn’t consider the simple act of playing poker online illegal; nor is it illegal to market poker sites.
“We are simply marketing for online poker sites,” writes super-affiliate Jeremy Enke. “We don’t process any payments, we host no games, we simply advertise for online poker sites. There is nothing illegal about this.
“Online poker players are logging on to a server where the games take place on a server in a country where the site is licensed and online poker is 100% legal,” Enke continues. “All games and transactions are taking place in legal territory. Could you get in trouble in the U.S. for reviewing prostitutes in Amsterdam even though they are legal in Amsterdam? I don’t think so.”
The word is “wait”
So: Don’t panic. Don’t sell your poker affiliate site. Don’t move to Canada. Not yet, anyway. This situation is still in its early stages, and there are still many unanswered questions.
Did the Australian payment entrepreneur Daniel Tzvetkoff rat out the afflicted sites? Is this part of the U.S. government’s plan to implement a new kind of legal online gambling? What role was played by Senate Majority Leader (and Nevada power broker) Harry Reid? Or by President Obama, for that matter?
We’ll know soon enough. In the meantime, stay tuned to the Casino Affiliate Programs Blog for the latest news, as well as some great ideas on how to make money with alternate affiliate programs during this unfortunate period.