When people – lawmakers, in particular – argue against regulating online gambling, point them to stories like this to show them why it is needed. Lightly trafficked online poker network, the Grand Poker Network, has been offline for about five weeks without any real indication as to when – or even if – it will be back up and running. There may be a happy ending to come, but right now, things don’t look particularly good for the network’s players.
The Grand Poker Network is not a household name in poker. It is comprised of just a few sites: Grand Poker (also known as Dragon Room), VietBet.eu, 5Dimes.eu, Island Casino, and SportBet. Even when it was up, PokerScout listed it with fewer than 40 cash game players on most occasions.
According to ProfessionalRakeback.com, players began having trouble connecting to the network on November 5th, 2017. Conversations with customer service resulted in varied reasons for the issue: the network was down for maintenance, the network was switching servers and updating its software, or even that the network was closing.
Indications when trying to login were that the network and/or software was being “upgraded,” but those upgrades never arrived. This week, ProfessionalRakeback.com had a brief online chat with a customer support rep from VietBet, who said that the network would be returning, but other than that, had no information to offer.
One of the interesting things in this situation, as ProfessionalRakeback.com points out, is that the Grand Poker Network was founded by 5Dimes, which itself is a highly respected online sportsbook (it operates other gaming sites, but it is most known for its sportsbook). So the fact that this Grand Poker Network saga has been going on for over a month is quite strange.
It is almost certain that 5Dimes is losing money on the poker room and possibly on the network as a whole. Why 5Dimes started the network is unknown, but it could have been as an honest attempt to develop another revenue/profit stream, or simply as a loss leader, a way to expose poker players to its flagship sports betting business. The latter tends to work the other way around: sports books launch online poker rooms, trying to draw sports bettors over to the poker tables. This way, the site can keep more of its customers’ money – someone who wins in the sportsbook may take the winnings over to the poker room and win or lose, the site generates rake from the winnings it paid the customer on the sports side.
I suspect the poker room/network was a genuine attempt at another revenue stream, as using it as a loss leader doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. 5Dimes has a well-established sportsbook, so pulling a handful of poker players over to sports betting wouldn’t be worth the expense and effort of developing a new poker room and/or poker network.
The fear among poker players on the Grand Poker Network right now is probably that the network is going to disappear with their money and is just stringing them along right now while management figures out how to best remove themselves from view. But we don’t know that to be the case – especially because of the reputation of 5Dimes – so unfortunately, everyone is just going to have to stand by until further developments reveal themselves.