Pretty crazy to me that an online poker site would ever again use the word “secure” in reference to player funds post-Black Friday.
FeltStars, a skin on the Merge Network, abruptly closed the doors of their virtual poker room this week. Visitors to FeltStars.eu are now greeted with a message announcing the site’s closure:
We are saddened to announce that we will be leaving online poker and no longer offer these services on our website. As most players already know FeltStars has operated as a partner of the Merge Gaming Network whom is licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, so rest assured that the Merge Gaming Network has processed and holds all player funds. Your balance is securely held by Merge Gaming and they will assist in transferring your funds to another partner.
The page then instructs players with a FeltStars balance to email email@example.com for details on how to transfer that balance to another Merge skin.
There are already anecdotal reports on 2p2 of FeltStars players successfully transferring their balances to Carbon Poker, but there was no official confirmation of the process from Merge at the time of this article.
It also seems as if all pending withdrawal requests at the room have been cancelled.
Why Did FeltStars Close?
The public statements from FeltStars (the same message on their website was also emailed to players) don’t identify any reason for the shuttering.
However, an email reportedly sent by the site to FeltStars pros acquired by OPR places the blame squarely on Merge’s shoulders. The email claims that a dispute over cashier control and tens of thousands of dollars in new banking fees were the reasons why FeltStars was forced to close.
The same email also asserts that FeltStars is not closing, and that the room is in discussions with “multiple networks.”
Lending some credibility to the bank fee claims: Many people are reporting difficulty depositing at Merge rooms over the last few weeks. Representatives from Merge have alluded to a upcoming processing solution aimed at solving that problem, and that solution could be what caused the massive new banking fees referenced by FeltStars’ email.
Will More Merge Skins Follow FeltStars?
I’m hearing vague rumblings that more Merge skins may follow FeltStar’s path, but I have been unable to confirm them with anyone who would be in a position to know.
If the claims made by FeltStars regarding additional banking fees are true, then it’s certainly possible that lower-volume skins – especially those heavy on US traffic – could be facing financial problems that could result in more shutdowns.
FeltStars is the second Merge skin to close within a week. Fellow skin Bluff Room threw in the towel a few days ago, although it’s not clear if there’s any connection between the two closings.