In my last article of this series, I spoke about “The Good Old Days of Online Poker.” To those fortunate enough to be in the industry during this period, they would agree that these were indeed VERY good old days. How could you not like it when $300+ CPA’s and $100k industry parties were simply the norm?
Today, I would like to continue this walk down memory lane and reminisce on that fateful summer and fall of 2006 when the poker affiliate industry forever changed with the passing of the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act). In the first article of this series I referenced the pre-UIGEA era as one that could only be compared to that of the Wild West. If that era were the Wild West, the UIGEA meant that a new Sheriff just showed up in town. And that Sheriff’s name was the United States Government.
Initially passed by the US House of Representatives in May of 2006 through a Homeland Security bill, the bill easily sailed through the Senate and was signed into law by President……sorry…….”Sheriff,” G Dubbya on October 13, 2006.
Many of the largest US facing poker operators fearing the new Sheriff quickly began packing their bags and leaving the US market. Poker sites such as Party Poker, Paradise Poker, 888, and other enormous brands left in droves. To say this decimated the incomes of many US poker affiliates would be an understatement. The passing of this bill left many US affiliates who were promoting these large brands in a quandary.
Just like the operators leaving the market, so did many gambling affiliates. The UIGEA gave birth to every major gambling affiliate forum opening up a marketplace. Many poker affiliates simply decided to cut their losses and liquidate their existing sites versus operating in such a turbulent and uncertain industry. During this period immediately following the UIGEA, there were two types of poker affiliates; buyers and sellers. To this day, many of the industries top poker affiliates are still the ones that were buyers during this period.
In 2007 and 2008, the online poker market began to get back to some level of normalcy. Four poker sites that decided to stay in the US market emerged out of the rubble as the new US powerhouses. These sites were PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker, and UltimateBet. If you were a US facing affiliate, there was no doubt you were working with at least one or all of these poker rooms. Of course other skins or smaller rooms tried to compete in the US, but none could provide the action and player values of these four poker rooms.
With these poker rooms being in command of the US market, unfortunately affiliates faced a whole new challenge of Shenanigans being dealt by the rooms. Whether it was Full Tilt’s ridiculous 60-day rule, Pokerstars changing their term “bonus code” to “marketing code,” or AP & UB caught stealing from players; the US was still a very tumultuous market.
Nonetheless, for many affiliates still promoting within the US, they were able to rebuild their US businesses and become profitable once again. Likewise, the remaining rooms became very savvy at payment processing and conversions were great. All and all we were in what many governments refer to as a “recovery.”
Unfortunately, in the famous words of the late Billy May Hayes, “But wait, there’s more!” Indeed this story isn’t over yet. A bigger blow than the UIGEA hit the US market in April 2011. Known as Black Friday, this day once again changed the landscape of online poker in the US.
In my final article of this series, we will continue the journey down memory lane and explore the effects of Black Friday on poker affiliates. We’ll also look at the potential future for U.S. poker affiliates in a regulated and non-regulated market.
In the meantime, feel free to share your comments here on how the UIGEA affected your affiliate business.
About Jeremy Enke
Jeremy Enke is a pioneer in the poker affiliate industry and has been working with and marketing online poker since 2002. During his tenure in the poker affiliate industry, Jeremy has launched several successful poker affiliate websites and campaigns. Jeremy is also founded the first poker affiliate network at PokerAffiliateWorld.com and currently operates the poker affiliate forums at PokerAffiliateListings.com. Jeremy is a consultant in the poker affiliate industry as well as a regular speaker and writer for the industry’s largest trade shows and magazines.