April 15, 2011 was officially deemed “Black Friday” by the poker world. What happened? Three major online poker sites were shut down and their CEOs were indicted on counts of money laundering and bank fraud. Anyone in the U.S. who made a living playing online poker was simply out of luck.
While many of these local online gamblers were single, they contributed much to the local economy and spending money was no problem. But now the single players as well as those who are married who have been providing for their families simply through online poker are now having to make a choice: move to another country that allows internet gambling or find another job. For the unattached crowd, the option is simple and tantalizing, move.
Many gaming analysts believe that poker’s “Black Friday” will have serious consequences especially to the World Series of Poker held each year at the Rio in Las Vegas. Many players qualified for the tournament through online winnings. Now that that has been shut down, the entries are projected to reduce from 8,000 to around 2,500, a significant decline. If the numbers are down and the viewers are less, big name sponsorship will drop as well. With those kind of bleak stats, all aspects of Las Vegas’ economy will inevitably take a hit.
Now that nearly 90% of the online gaming community has disappeared, things are bound to change and not for the better unless you’re Costa Rica, Canada or Mexico – countries who still allow online gaming. Local casinos will have to get creative and up the anti to entice poker players to stay and play at actual tables.