Poker Site Shutdowns Could Impact MMA

nullIn an interesting development in the business-side of MMA, three major poker websites were shut down on Friday due to federal indictments.

According to a report by MMAWeekly.com, poker sites PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker received indictments for illegal gambling and money laundering.

“These defendants concocted an elaborate criminal fraud scheme, alternately tricking some U.S. banks and effectively bribing others to assure the continued flow of billions in illegal gambling profits,” Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said in a statement.

The poker sites have been shut down by the government, and while some people may still be able to access them currently, it will only be a matter of time before they are shut down completely and inaccessible.

The online sites were once a prominent sponsor of the big MMA promotions like the UFC, but those days have passed. Despite the UFC avoiding these sponsors, they are still vital to smaller promotions that have to rely on their sponsorship dollars to stay afloat.

Also, despite the organization not allowing the sponsor, fighters still use sites like these for their own sponsorship. Time will tell what these indictments will do to the fighters’ bankroll.

The piece by MMAWeekly went on to discuss just how much money these poker sites were able to contribute and why the UFC severed their relationship with them.

The poker sites have been shut down by the government, and while some people may still be able to access them currently, it will only be a matter of time before they are shut down completely and inaccessible.

In the MMA world, poker sites had become a major sponsor of fighters and promotions over the past several years. One manager speaking to MMAWeekly.com on Friday stated that many of the poker sponsorships rivaled the money of what any two or three other sponsors could offer, and the poker sites considered it ‘chump change.’

Full Tilt Poker, who had been a major sponsor of many fighters in the UFC, have been banned from sponsorships in the organization for the past two years. While speculation ran wild that the UFC kicked Full Tilt Poker out for being a competitor to Zuffa owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta’s own casinos, sources have indicated it was for a different reason altogether.

Independent sources confirmed to MMAWeekly.com that one of the major reasons the UFC banned the online poker site had more to do with the company wanting to avoid dealing with a sponsor who was allegedly doing illegal business. The Federal government has long sniffed around the online poker industry. UFC officials read the writing on the wall, choosing not to do business with companies in that industry.

As the UFC has expanded, the organization has been landing bigger sponsors like Bud Light and Harley Davidson ending their need for the poker sites. It will be interesting to see just how much impact this legal issue will have on MMA.

2 responses to “Poker Site Shutdowns Could Impact MMA”

  • G says:

    It’s ridiculous how the government can’t get its act together and legalize online poker already.

  • Drew Ellis says:

    As a poker fan, I could see why this would be so frustrating. But, rest assured, if the government isn’t getting money they think they should be, they will find a way to get it.

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