One of the venerable companies in the online poker industry – and one that has consistently flown in the face of convention throughout its history – is apparently ready to pull up stakes in one of the biggest markets in the world to concentrate their efforts elsewhere.
Internet players in several European countries woke up over the weekend to find an e-mail from Bodog itself, but it wasn’t the usual promotional e-mails that are regularly sent. This e-mail was to inform the players that Bodog would be pulling out of their respective markets effective August 30. In that e-mail, Bodog suggested “that you withdraw any balance you may have. (The) minimum withdrawal amount is $/€/£ 10. After August 30, your balance will be adjusted to zero to protect your funds.”
Reasons behind the withdrawal from 20 European countries run the gamut from streamlining the Bodog services to approaching a different market more aggressively to failures by the company to obtain necessary licensing arrangements in Europe. It is known that Bodog has been having issues with several payment processors in Europe and also has failed to gain the approval of the European Union Gaming Commission, something that is critical to their operations on the Old Continent. This, more than likely, is the big reason for the withdrawal.
Bodog has been aggressively pursuing the Asian market, which could provide some new revenue streams of its own. With approximately a third of the planet’s population (China and India have over a billion citizens, not to mention other large Asian nations), the approach by Bodog to move into these areas is a “first strike” of sorts in that other companies haven’t taken as aggressive an approach. It could also be that these Asian markets are, as of yet, completely unregulated.
The list of countries in Europe that Bodog is pulling out of is a bit surprising in that there are several countries that are rather sizeable in their own right. The complete list is: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Israel, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, the Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovenia, the Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Count in other nations that have set up their own proprietary laws in their countries (laws that regulate the industry to only offer games to citizens of that nation solely) such as Spain, France and Italy – and other nations moving in that direction – the move by Bodog will drop their numbers precariously.
What does this mean for Canadian players who step to the virtual felt at Bodog? There will be lower numbers across the board, from cash games to tournaments, which will present great opportunities. It will be especially big when it comes to Bodog’s “guaranteed” events, where overlays might become the norm for a while rather than the exception. Once the countries are dropped come September 1, players from Canada, England, Ireland and other nations not affected by the withdrawal will have a chance to make some significant green.
Bodog has consistently run against the currents when it comes to the online poker industry. Following the “Black Friday” indictments of April 2011, Bodog continued to service American players despite having the specter of U. S. government indictment hanging over their heads. Although late last year Bodog “pulled out” of the American market (and had the U. S. Department of Justice seize the ‘Bodog.com’ URL), it was in effect a ruse; Bodog simply moved their American operations to ‘Bovada.lv’ and continued to not only offer online poker but casino games and sports betting to American players.
Since the “Black Friday” indictments, Bodog has seen a steady decrease in its player numbers. According to PokerScout.com, the industry’s numbers watchdog, Bodog has fallen out of the top ten online poker sites in the industry. As of today, Bodog is reported to have an average of 840 cash game players, peaking at 1738 during the evening hours in North America; as of this moment of writing, there are 660 players on the cash game tables, the standard of extended play for online poker sites.