June 22, 2009 (CAP Newswire) — When the U.S. government decided to freeze some $33 million in online poker winnings a few weeks ago, they focused on targeting players from two of the world's biggest poker websites: PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker.
Since then, there has been an outpouring of criticism directed at the government’s actions, and many experts are predicting that the government is unlikely to succeed in the long run. Despite all this, however, there does appear to be some serious negative consequences in the short term: PokerStars has apparently lost about 9 percent of its traffic since the freeze.
PokerStars is the world’s largest Internet poker site, so a 9 percent drop in traffic is a very big deal.
According to a story by Dan Cypra at the Poker News Daily online magazine, the drop probably comes from a (most likely temporary) loss of confidence by players that whatever winnings they may accrue at the site will be frozen. The site has vowed that all players will be paid, but there still exists some hesitation. “PokerStars has recommended bank wires for players seeking cashouts,” Cypra writes.
“On the first Thursday of June (the 4th), PokerStars saw a peak of 37,523 real money ring game players,” Cypra goes on. “By June 11th, one week later, that number had dropped to 34,692, a fall of 8%. Yesterday (June 18th), the site hosted a peak of 34,207 cash game players, representing a 1% decline week over week and 9% drop since June 4th. As further evidence of a slowdown, on June 13th, PokerStars recorded a peak player count of 28,455, the first time it had slumped below 30,000 since December 31st, 2008.”
It should be noted, however, that PokerStars’ traffic is up during the first 18 days of June, compared to the same period in May, despite the ongoing World Series of Poker (WSOP). So, player trends do tend to vary, and one cannot necessarily make a firm connection between a recent drop in activity and the poker money freeze. (During this same time frame, traffic on Full Tilt Poker has actually increased by 2 percent.)