On Thursday Nov. 11th, 2010, a European online gaming organization, ChiliGaming, announced that it will enter the United States market at the start of 2011, bringing its gaming operations to American customers. ChiliGaming Network, has been operating since 2006, offering online poker, casino, and bookmaking operations,. Since that time, it has enjoyed a global presence, although due to the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006, it had not yet ventured into the United States.
This is all about to change. ChiliGaming has adopted a strategy that will allow the company to enter into the American market while at the same time, allow users to play for money by offering a subscription-based service to bring online poker to USA players. The subscription-based model, also used by PurePlay (formely Betzip) has been around for some time now, and allows players, for a nominal monthly charge, to play online poker legally in the United States. The reason that this is legal is that no money is being used at the table, but the payouts are cash prizes. The funding for these prizes is derived from a membership fee. In some ways this is similar to the way that patrons can consume alcohol in “dry states”. By being a member, the organization is deemed private and run as a club with no actual money played on the tables.
“We are very excited about this new dimension to our business,” Alexandre Dreyfus, the Chief Executive Officer of ChiliPoker, stated during the announcement. “Our economies of scale will help this be a strong mechanism for further growth and it will help fill the void that exists in markets where online gaming is restricted and consumers want to play poker. In markets where we operate online gaming, this new product will provide consumers with more choice.”
Most likely it will be modeled after the online membership offered by PurePlay, which charges $19.99 per month for membership, giving its customers over $150,000 in prize money.  By being a part of a membership site, the risk of monetary loss can be reduced as there is a limit to the amount of cash that can be lost. If you can afford $20 a month, you can play in as many cash tournaments as you want. That does offer a big return on your money, however, there are no cash tables, or ring games. Many users have claimed, on various blogs, that in order to win a tournament, you often have to weed through 1000’s of players just to get to the payout stages which are at best, miniscule.
While the membership sites typically do not attract the “sharks” or the high rollers, they do attract a lot of mediocre players or casual players. It will be interesting to see if the market will favor this new venture. Perhaps Washington State residents might be intrigued, as this may be a loophole that might allow them to play.

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