If ever there were a reason for more U.S. states to legalize online poker, it’s the fact that offshore sites are reaping millions of dollars that could be lining state coffers. This was made perfectly clear in 2015, as offshore iPoker sites made huge strides. That said, let’s discuss which black-market poker rooms in particular are making big profits and how long they can expect this blissful period to continue.
Bovada among Biggest Online Poker Sites
Since Black Friday, almost every major iPoker operator has abided by the various regulations and banking laws in different countries. For example, PokerStars, 888 and partypoker now obtain licensing before they operate in regulated countries. But a major exception remains Bovada (Bodog), which experienced a boom in 2015 thanks to the lack of regulation throughout the U.S.
Bovada has grown to become the world’s third-largest online poker network, trailing only PokerStars and 888. Meanwhile, they’ve shot ahead of the iPoker Network, partypoker, Full Tilt and Microgaming. Overall, Bovada has seen its cash game traffic increase by 24% in 2015, and we can only expect bigger things from this site until more U.S. states regulate online poker.
WPN experiences over 100 Percent Increase
The Winning Poker Network (WPN) is another offshore company that saw their traffic accelerate greatly this year. In fact, their cash game traffic increased by 128%, moving them from a mid-range network into the number 13 position right now (according to PokerScout.com). Phil Nagy, CEO of WPN, aims to put his online poker operation in the top 5 by the summer of 2016.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Chico network has performed rather well this year. Chico started in virtual obscurity a couple years ago — now they are the world’s 17th-largest poker network with an average of 550 cash players an hour.
US must act now to take Advantage of Market
Things are only going to get better for black-market online poker sites as long as the U.S. sits on the sidelines. Twitch streaming is helping the game immensely as more people watch pros play and chat about life. Unfortunately for any American outside Delaware, New Jersey or Nevada, they can’t watch live streams and hop online to play at PokerStars or 888 afterward. Instead, their only option is the offshore sites like Bovada, Chico and WPN.
Many U.S. states are missing out on the windfall of profits that are going to black-market iPoker rooms. And while these have been relatively safe options in recent times, it may not be long before another offshore site closes without repaying player deposits. And if this happens, it could hamper the regulated U.S. market as it slowly expands across the country.