Last month, the iGaming headlines lit up with the announcement that Yahoo! was entering the online poker industry. Yahoo Texas Holdem was launched on the website, but no real money was involved in the actual wagering process, thus making it 100% legal. It was assumed that Yahoo intended to convert to real money online poker in the future, but instead, just weeks into the launch, the site is being shut down.
Yahoo announced the closure of the Texas Holdem poker room on its website, blaming it on “changes in supporting technologies and increased security requirements”. Yahoo said that those changes have resulted in the online poker games being “incompatible, insecure, and no longer functioning correctly.” The Texas Holdem site will officially close on December 31st, 2014.
The online poker division isn’t the only area being affected, though. Yahoo is closing its entire gaming parlor, ‘Classic Yahoo Games’, which has been up and running for 15 years. The statement verified that the alterations in technology and security occurred all the way back in January of this year, saying it has since become “impossible to keep the games running”. If that’s the case, one has to wonder why Yahoo bothered launching a free-play online poker room in the first place, rather than working to update their software beforehand. But as they say, hindsight is 20/20.
Yahoo assured everyone that they do intend to re-launch their parlor games, presumably including online poker, in the future, but no tentative date was offered. “As of now, we don’t have a schedule available for the release of the new games,” the statement read. “We will be adding some new, Yahoo Classic Games to the Yahoo catalog as quickly as we can, but please understand that developing each new game takes time, and some of the classics won’t be returning.”
As for which games Yahoo intends to revitalize, they said they will be focusing on “the more popular” varieties. The portfolio won’t mirror the previous game selection, but Yahoo did say that they are already working to “make all of our games as amazing as possible”, and told players they are already incorporating “many of the things YOU suggested after the initial launch”.
The one thing we do know for sure is that, if Yahoo brings the Texas Holdem online poker room back to life, it will still be presented in a free-to-play environment. The announcement said that all the new games will be free, just as before, but that in-game purchases will be available. “Some may offer “boosts” for purchase”, said Yahoo, meaning that additional poker chips or other add-on features could be provided, but that players will still be unable to win real money or any other type of prizes for playing online poker.
Social gaming environments such as these have become incredibly popular over the last few years, as was proven by the previous success of Zynga Poker on Facebook. However, if the US government ever decides to regulate online poker on a federal level, Yahoo surely wants to be prepared to make the conversion to real money online poker, with all of the necessary securities in place, at the proverbial flip of a switch.