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888Poker Pulls Plug on Rakeback Programs

888Poker is pulling the plug on its traditional rakeback program and replacing it with a “holistic” rewards program that covers a lot more than just online poker.
According to an announcement from 888Poker, which was posted on the forums at 2+2, the new program will be simpler for players to follow and new levels will be based on a players’ previous rewards level.
The post also took care to assure players that 888Poker’s new program would not obliterate the rewards they’d accumulated in the old program saying:

We’d like to assure you that despite these major changes, 888poker will fully honour its cashback commitment to all players, including its VIPs, who are currently entitled to yearly cashback in the existing rewards plan. Moreover, any reward points players accumulated in the current rewards program will be automatically transferred to Gold Tokens, with equal value, in the new 888poker Club and will continue to be redeemable any time.

While 888Poker’s new program is all about poker, players can level up a little faster if complete challenges that are based on casino and sports betting achievements. Clearly, 888Poker is looking to get a little of that rakeback back on their other gaming platforms.
Supporting expensive rakeback programs, the kind that reward grinders who prey on casual players, isn’t something the online poker industry seems inclined to do lately. Late last year, PokerStars implemented similar changes to their rewards program.
It’s a move that reflects the online poker industry’s complex relationship with its most prolific players.  While these grinders are the pillar of the online gambling industry, they’re also the reason it takes a lot of convincing to get new players – the ones who grow the poker ecosystem – to convert.
It remains to be seen how well these changes will sit with the online poker crowd and whether they’ll implement a boycott of one kind or another.