Merge Gaming has suspended new U.S. player signups on their network effective tonight. Existing players will be allowed to continue to play. Some might think that this is bad news but I actually think it is good news.
Most of the traffic on Merge Gaming comes from two sources. One is the Jazette group of skins which include Sportsbook.com and PlayersOnly. They already stopped accepting new U.S. players a month ago. The other major group use the main Merge Gaming cashier, support and processing. These rooms include flagship Carbon Poker and other skins such as Lock Poker and RPM Poker. The Merge Gaming support and processing have been having a hard time of it lately.
To give you an idea I had an issue that was a simply yes or no answer. It took 9 days for me to get a reply. The reply I got showed me that the person that replied to my email did not understand so I tried again and got the exact same response word for word 3 days later. Players have been reporting bounced checks and serious lack of deposit and cashout options since the site has doubled in size since Black Friday. It is definitely time for Merge Gaming to regroup.
Merge says they will not allow new U.S. players for the next 4-6 weeks. During this time they will have time to train support people, find new processors and catch up on check cashouts. I think all of this will keep them around in the longterm.
But what about the threat of the DOJ?
Sure there is the threat that Merge Gaming would become the next victim but let us look at the differences here between the former Big 3 and Merge Gaming. First all of the Big 3 were standalone poker rooms with unique, single cashier systems. If something failed in their system then the whole system could collapse as we have seen Cereus and Full Tilt Poker who are now looking more like ponzi schemes than legit businesses.
If Merge Gaming or one of their skins ran into this problem I do not feel that it would have the same effect. For example if Jazette ran into problems the rest of the network would still move along. If PokerHost, BetUS or IGS had problems the system would continue to move along. If the main Merge Gaming cashier system ran into problems there would still be Jazette players. Sure it would hurt but I think their fragmented cashier system actually helps them here.
I am not guaranteeing anything but I think that Merge Gaming is doing everything right to keep themselves going. I think this will keep them out of trouble. All of the major remaining U.S. rooms is a part of a network. One of those networks, Yatahay, had bank accounts and domains seized last month. They are still open and it is business as usual. If the companies are prepared for problems they can handle most anything that comes their way. I think that is what Merge Gaming is trying to do right now.