Black Friday, the biggest online gaming story of the year — possibly decade — keeps rolling along, with the industry (and players, and affiliates) now wondering what’s next, and what the future holds.
What’s Black Friday? Read about it here.

Player payments allowed
The biggest news of the day is that the U.S. government is allowing Full Tilt and PokerStars to resume use of their seized domain names to “facilitate the withdrawal of U.S. players’ funds held in account with the companies,” CNN reports.

That offer is also open to Absolute Poker and, if CEREUS, the owner of those sites, chooses to accept it.

That’s big news — as poker pro Brandon Adams told the Chicago Tribune, “Some players have literally millions of dollars in their online poker accounts.”

Competitors rush in
Meanwhile, the competition to the shut-down sites are taking advantage of this opportunity to step up their games and grab more global market share.

To that end, Europe-centric sites like Paddy Power and Titan Poker have announced new player benefits.

Titan says it’s upping player benefits to “demonstrate its stability” in the face of recent events. The site is giving new players an improved, automatic first deposit bonus up to a maximum of 200%, up to $1,000. The site is also improving the redemption rate so players can enjoy the bonus “as quickly as possible.”

The company also wasted no time in offering a $2,000 “Black Friday, White Monday” freeroll tournament on Monday, April 18, 2011.
Read Titan Poker’s press release.

However, Bloomberg notes that European markets like France and Italy may implement changes to their own online gambling regulations depending on what happens in the U.S. And The Guardian says that the U.S. action could give Germany more confidence to pursue its plan of higher taxes on online gambling.

Stock prices soar
Meanwhile, other competitors of online poker are enjoying huge bumps in their stock prices.

In the immediate aftermath of Black Friday, Bwin.Party shares jumped an incredible 30 percent, while 888 shares gained 19 percent, Playtech gained 7.5 percent, and Sportingbet gained 4.7 percent.

Furthermore, 888 has gone out of its way to state that its unaffected by the shutdown.

“Please be assured player balances are safe. There is no cause for concern. For all customers outside the U.S. it is business as usual,” according to the statement.

And the fact that Larry Flynt’s no-pay Hustler Casino opened on Black Friday was, apparently, just a coincidence.

Business continues
Meanwhile, the shutdown may have targeted the biggest online poker rooms serving the U.S., but it certainly hasn’t taken down all poker sites serving the U.S.

“They went after the big three to make a point, but meanwhile I can name 25 other poker websites that are up and running,” as one poker player told NPR.

More on this angle tomorrow, as well as a look at what the future might hold for online poker in the U.S. — and poker affiliate marketers.

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