The Merge Gaming Network has quietly announced plans to start taking new US player sign-ups tomorrow at 12:01 AM EDT. Some Merge skins have contacted affiliates with the news, and some have responded to players’ inquiries to confirm.
Merge, currently the second largest poker network that serves US players according to PokerScout.com, stopped accepting new US sign-ups over four months ago. Multiple sources close to the situation said at the time that the measure was a temporary response to better prepare the network for the large influx of new traffic resulting from Black Friday. Since the decision, Merge’s traffic has actually dropped to roughly its pre-Black Friday levels according to PokerScout.com.
Multiple sources close to Merge tell Subject: Poker that new players from Washington DC and six states will not be able to sign up: Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New York, and Washington. All seven of these jurisdictions have relatively strict anti-gambling laws. Merge stopped accepting new players from four of these jurisdictions on May 24th, the day after the US Attorney for the District of Maryland seized assets from a number of gambling websites. Kentucky and Washington, both of which have very strict anti-gambling laws, are new to the list.
In communications with skins and affiliates, the network stressed its desire to keep this decision quiet, hinting at the danger of US law enforcement activity.1 Merge and its various skins strongly discouraged affiliates from reporting this news and even threatened financial repercussions for affiliates who aggressively target the US market.
Subject: Poker does not know at this time whether all Merge skins plan to begin accepting US players outside of those seven jurisdictions tomorrow or whether some intend to apply further restrictions. For example, the Merge skins Hero Poker, Sportsbook.com, and PlayersOnly all stopped accepting new US players before the network as a whole did.
- Last month, Subject: Poker reported that the US Attorneys Office for the District of Maryland was reportedly planning to take action against Merge or its payment processors in late September. Due to the nature of such information, it is unlikely that we will ever learn whether this information was incorrect, the plans were canceled or postponed, or seizures were attempted but yielded no assets as a result of our article. We stand by our decision to publish the story. ↩