You can launch a poker room or casino site successfully, but beware of how you place your “Futrue Bet”. The good news is that the market is enormous.
The online poker market is a $6 billion dollar a year industry. The top online poker rooms are profiting over $1 million dollars each and every day. Top poker affiliates, who refer players to poker sites, make over $100,000 per month.
You decide to start researching on how to start your own online poker room. You hop onto the search engines and before you know it, you find two dozen or so companies claiming to be capable, able, and willing to help you. Naturally, you don’t get something for nothing and you realize their fees range from $5,000 up to a couple of million. You know that you generally get what you pay for, so you start weighing the pros and cons with pricing for these companies.
On the low end, you can get a website that is 95% canned, and you simply advertise it. When players sign up on your website you receive a percentage of the revenue that their gaming generates. In other words, you are a glorified affiliate with little or no control of anything else besides limited marketing with the business. (Due to duplicated website content).
On the high end, you can drop $1-$2 million dollars on fully created and customized gaming software. This will be created from scratch to match ALL of your likes/dislikes, and desires. So, you’re out $1-$2 million and 1-2 years have passed while you waited for the software to be completed. Now it’s complete and you have to start marketing. Once your marketing is ready to go, you need to hire 1,000 or so player props to play poker at your site so that when your first 5 poker player signups show up, they have someone to play poker against. This is the trickiest process when trying to reach and maintain the much needed player liquidity.
Option C is to join a poker network. Contact several of the larger successful poker networks and you will find that they are very selective. You must know what you are doing, have a good business background, and have a sound business plan for them to scrutinize. You will naturally pay them a small royalty percentage of all revenue that your players generate. They can have you set-up and running with customized gaming software in six to nine months. This means when your first 5 poker player signups show up at your site, they are pooled into the other players from all of the other poker rooms on the network. It typically costs about $500k to get started and the network will usually want to see a budget of $2million or more.
I took option D. I received a phone call out of the blue. It was from a representative of a poker network. I was given a professional and remarkable presentation. I be came impressed after verifying some of their claims and credentials. They claimed to be the one and only connection to the Poker Network. In other words, if you wanted to be a poker site on the Network, you had to go through them. They claimed to have been affiliated with the first poker website ever. They claimed to have a “unique relationship” with the network that offered a lowered startup cost. They proposed building me a custom website integrated into the network for $55,000. This would include access to their gaming license ($50,000 value) because I would be placed under their “umbrella”. There would also be a sliding royalty scale of roughly 8%-21%.
This was music to my ears. I was going to receive a custom poker website, have a poker room in their network player pool (instant player liquidity and 3rd largest network in the world), pay a small royalty commission, utilize their customer service for my player support, utilize their processing for my player deposits/withdrawals, resulting in a Turn-Key solution!
I raised $250,000 to get started. I then met with the president from Vancouver, Canada. I handed him a check for $55,000 and then waited a few months in anticipation for the poker website mock-up to be completed.
I also made several customized website requests. They were quite reasonable. I received a call just 3 months later that my site mock-up was almost done. When I viewed the site mock-up, I wasn’t impressed, but it seemed like a good starting point. I noticed that ALL of my customized requests were not complete. I was told that those would take extra time. I was assured they would be done. I was told if I didn’t check off on the site, then I would have to go to the back of the line and wait months for the changes to be made. They said this was due to newer licensees sites still needing to be completed.
I reluctantly agreed and within two days, I referred many people to the new poker site. It wasn’t perfect, but I figured it was good enough to get the ball rolling (oops). On the 12th day of launch I got an email from a player I referred. He had won $22k. He had requested a withdrawal, and after 8 days he got an email explaining that the max payout was $2k per week and he would have to resubmit a withdrawal request and wait 10 weeks total to get all of the money out.
This was just the beginning. I got another phone call explaining I had a large number of deposits (good news), but I had to cover those deposits. The network demanded an additional $15k reserve to be wired within one week or I would risk having my site shut off. I originally paid $5k for the reserve. I sent the money only after drilling them for two days as to why. Their story was convincing. They said they weren’t a bank and I would be responsible for “floating” all deposits and withdrawals from all of the different processors which had up to a 2 week delay.
This was yet another “red flag”. In the back of my head, I kept asking myself why couldn’t or wouldn’t this billion dollar empire float a lousy $20k for a two week period. A few weeks later I received several emails from client/friends of mine who hadn’t received their cash out from our poker site. These cash outs ranged from just a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. I had now provided $20k in reserves to cover these depsoits/withdrawals. this didn’t make sense.
The president of the company gave every reason why these things were happening. I was assured and reassured. Within a few weeks players started giving me feedback that they had finally started receiving some of their withdrawals. The knots in my stomach loosened a bit. Things seemed to go smoothly for a month or so. I then received a phone call from the president again explaining that he had his once a year incredible marketing campaign launching to get new players. It was the most effective marketing they found and could only be done once a year he claimed. If I wanted a piece, I could partake for $12,000. I was guaranteed it would work. I accepted his offer. I sent the money. No players signed up from that false campaign.
The problems never stopped, they only got worse. I started receiving emails from other licensees asking if I had received any revenue payouts from this company. I further questioned this, and come to find out, some of the licensees hadn’t been paid their operating commissions in months. I had never requested a payout from them because I never put much into marketing due to the other major problems. (Thank God) Needless to say I managed to lose over $100,000 with this company. Come to find out, they had lied about many representations that they made. Turns out, you can have a direct relationship with the network without going through this company. Why would the real network even allow this company to represent them? I do have a theory. The network allows this company to exist in order to sabotage and prevent the little guy from growing. By letting this scam continue, they can prevent a lot of companies from ever succeeding thereby securing the networks overall market share of online poker players. The network has allowed this scam to continue for seven years. Prospective Poker site operators beware. Over 200 people have been sucked into this.