TonyBet Poker, the independent online poker site, named after the famed poker-playing Lithuanian businessman Tony G, has been inaccessible since July 20, though the company’s sportsbook and casino remain in operation. The reasons for the immediate closure remain unknown, with no official announcement coming from the management.
The sudden closure has caught TonyBet poker players unawares as many players tried to access the poker room only to find their access was blocked.The closure of TonyBet coincides with industry trend over the past few years. Back in May, one of the world’s largest online poker network, the Microgaming Poker Network (MPN), permanently shut down, forcing more than a dozen of its skins to look for a new home.
While sites such as Grosvenor Poker and OlyBet successfully migrated to iPoker and GGPoker respectively, other skins decided to terminate their operations, including the Kindred Group’s 32Red.
TonyBet Poker Failed To Improve
TonyBet Poker began operating as a standalone network in 2013, offering poker across various markets. It became one of the pioneers of Chinese Poker, and was also among the first sites to offer Bitcoin deposits. But other than that, the site didn’t have any key milestones within its seven-year operation. In fact, it struggled to improve its numbers and had remained stuck at the lower level until the curtain eventually fell on it.
When it closed down, it ranked number 55 on the list of poker’s most active sites, according to figures from the leading online poker monitoring portal PokerScout, most probably because the company only placed poker as a side offering, giving greater emphasis on its sportsbook and casino operations.
Over the years, running as an independent online poker site proved to be challenging. However, while TonyBet obviously lacked the ability to evolve with the times, things are very much different at Unibet Poker, another standalone site.
Unibet operated under MPN until 2013 when it secured a deal with software provider Relax Gaming which allowed it to run on its own. When Unibet started operating independently, its efforts and concentration were geared towards the casual players. It worked hard to improve its offerings and have come up with policies that ensure protection for the recs. It became one of the few sites prohibiting the use of tracking software and programs.
Last year, Unibet Poker achieved a massive milestone after dealing its 1 billionth hand. It’s revenue also improved in early 2020, setting a positive pattern for the months ahead.
Things could have been different had TonyBet invested heavily in improving its online poker offering, but that was it for the site. It struggled to stay afloat despite being fronted by Tony G, a prominent figure in the world of business and politics. The philanthropist, whose real name is Antanas Guoga, served as a Member of the European Parliament from 2014-2019.
Guoga launched TonyBet as a sportsbook back in 2009, but later offered online poker four years later. TonyBet Poker became among the first sites to be licensed in Estonia and had expanded into other markets, such as the UK, Lithuania and Denmark.
Online Poker Keeps Going 
TonyBet Poker becomes the latest site to close down this year, but it does not necessarily represent the industry’s present status. When lockdowns were imposed across the globe due to the COVID-19 pandemic, interest in online poker surged, with sites reporting a massive increase in online traffic. While figures are now slowly returning to pre-pandemic levels, the momentum is still there, and the trend has remained positive for the industry.
Over the past few months, the leading sites played host to massive online festivals, keeping the hunt for huge guarantees going for players. In fact, total prize pools in a single series have smashed the $100 million mark, a first in the history of online poker. Things are expected to be this way for an extended period, as players will most likely remain and play from the comfort of their own homes with coronavirus cases still continuing to rise worldwide.

TightPoker Staff

TightPoker Staff

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