Merge Network, which hosts a collection of the dwindling number of US-facing sites, has halted all player-to-player transfers as of today, a site representative announced.
“We apologise for the inconvenience, but unfortunately this is a decision taken by Merge, and one we were not consulted on,” BlackChipRep posted on 2+2.
He continued: “If we were consulted we would have argued strongly against the change, as it’s causing enormous damage to our business. ... We are hopeful that this change will lead to faster withdrawal processing but we cannot guarantee that as processing is all handled by Merge.”
The news came Friday in the wake of restrictions to player-to-player transfers on many of the US-friendly networks. It stirred conversation about playing online poker in the US, and speculation about an imminent downfall of Merge Network.
There has been no explanation for the transfer restriction, and many were left questioning how the decision would affect traffic, particularly for MTT players who are often staked. While blocking transfers would also restrict affiliate deposits to cover internal promotions, the most significant impact would be realized by US players that send money to other players outside the country in order to expedite cash outs.
“There must be some good reason behind this but this is going to hurt the ability for many players to stay in the game,” John “Pokeraddict” Mehaffey posted on 2+2. “How many people are only active because they get staked or have a real life friend that keeps them in action? I am guessing this has to do with the market of Merge swapping and people breaking the rakeback cap but this is going to have some serious fallout that will affect people’s ability to play at all.”
Without the ability to withdraw funds in a timely fashion, many US players will seek more favorable places to play.
While some have questioned the future of the Merge Network, Bovada has survived without a means for player-to-player transfers. Other US-facing networks have restrictions on transfers. For instance, Americas Card Room limited transfers to $1k/month, but has since tried to capitalize on the expected exodus of players from Merge by raising the monthly player-to-player transfer limit to $5k.