arim Wilkins, CEO of RaketheRake.com, has called for the egaming industry to employ margin calls like in the banking industry, saying such a development would be “a massive jump” for online poker. “If rooms can visibly demonstrate they have guaranteed ring-fenced funds and that is verified by respected auditors, then that goes a long way [to restoring faith],” he said.
“Players have been burned, in the US and elsewhere, and there’s not a lot of sense of security - people aren’t sure which room will be the next to go,” added Wilkins
“As an affiliate we are suffering obviously, and the key for us is trying to keep in touch with our players and let them know we are here and trying to make sure the rooms they are playing on are safe.
“Every room is going for a massive land-grab, going with extra promotions and I understand everyone wants to be part of that, but no one is saying to the players ‘we’re really sorry that your money is stuck on these sites.’”
Elsewhere, Stamen Gortchev of Bulgarian power affiliate Igrach appreciates the impact of the Full Tilt shutdown on casual players in terms of the public perception of poker.
He said: “Many players who are not professionals don’t make the distinction between FT and the other sites - they just hear one of the big sites has been closed and they don’t make a distinction between Americans and Europeans, or think about the reasons for it being closed, and so on.”
Both Wilkins and Gortchev also confirmed that affiliate payments continued to hit their accounts right up until last week’s ruling from the Alderney Gambling Control Commission.
In fact, Gortchev has lamented the fact that his May affiliate payment from the indicted operator was still lying inaccessible in his account, but admitted that the crediting of affiliate accounts - first reported by eGaming Review in June - was otherwise “all good.”
“Right after Black Friday there was a massive panic on the withdrawal of funds and when payments started to come from Tilt and Stars everybody thought everything was solved and there would be no problems for European players,” said Gortchev, whose business is one of the largest poker communities in his home country of Bulgaria.
“Still, we recommended people keep low balances in their accounts if they wanted to continue playing at Stars and Tilt. I say go with the big European licensed sites where you’re really 100% sure it’s safe.”
Wilkins was equally complimentary of what were until last week the two largest poker sites worldwide, saying “There were small delays with affiliate payments but Full Tilt was very efficient, at least up until May. Pokerstars was exceptional as well.”
However, like Gortchev he has kept abreast of the need to give players a sense of security, and when his site relaunched in May Wilkins reduced the number of poker rooms to which RaketheRake sends its players.
“Now we’re only looking to work with well-established brands with strong backing behind them, where players will get the most security,” he said.