Lock Poker went offline last Friday, with millions of dollars still owed to players.
The poker room’s demise comes two years after reports first surfaced over difficulties cashing out from the site. One commentator has estimated that players are owed about $15 million.
The poker room’s website remains up, but the client no longer connects to the servers, and the software can no longer be downloaded, according to journalist John Mehaffey. The casino games are also unavailable.
Former Lock Poker spokesman Shane Bridges told pokerfuse in a recent interview that one of the causes of the operator’s demise was overspending, with financial problems exacerbated by payment processing difficulties following Black Friday.
Lock Poker’s owner Jen Larsen, who lives in Canada, flew first class and stayed in boutique five star hotels, according to Bridges.
Mehaffey’s monthly Online Poker Offshore Payment Processing Report took the dramatic step of downgrading Lock Poker to an F in August 2013. No cashouts have been processed by the company since April 2014.
The bad publicity which Lock has been given by almost every poker news outlet and online player forum looks to have finally brought the operation to a well deserved end. Cash game traffic figures have been declining relentlessly over the last three years, and Lock left the Revolution network to establish its own proprietary network at the beginning of 2014.
In March 2014, it launched a second skin on the network, Superwins.EU, but fortunately this failed to attract new players to what was in effect a scam poker site.
The free market can take credit for driving Lock Poker out of business, but at the cost of what may be the second largest total loss of deposits since the collapse of Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet.
The poker industry, government and regulators signally failed to make any impact on Lock. Even the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), which was formed to lobby for regulated online poker in the US, attempted to reach out to Lock to find a solution—its attempt was widely derided for being too little too late, but no-one else was taking any action at all.
Libertarian minded players and the industry may grumble about the growth of online poker regulation, and the accompanying taxes, but the failure of poker rooms like Lock, which leave thousands of players out of pocket, has a deleterious impact on the whole industry.
The Curacao regulator which licensed Lock Poker and Superwins, deserves to be shunned by the rest of the industry for its complete failure to provide any player protection whatsoever. Online gaming regulators that serve only to rubber-stamp operators give the industry a bad name.
Regulated online gaming is available in many jurisdictions around the world. But even in cases where regulation is not in place, players can find reputable operators that offer online poker, video poker and various types of online casino games in regulated markets around the world. And while the market they are in may not have regulation, these companies will be unlikely to risk their business in those regulated markets and may provide safer games as a result.