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3-D Poker Site PKR No Longer in Operation

PKR logo

Pioneering 3-D online poker site PKR closed its doors in early May 2017 and is no longer serving up games of any kind. The company, registered in Alderney, now shows on its website a notice explaining that PKR is in insolvency and naming the joint administrators. This move came as a shock to its faithful players particularly those in Australia, who now have to subtract one from the dwindling number of poker rooms that are open to them.

The first indications that the site was in trouble occurred near the beginning of May when players couldn't access the poker games for a couple of days. PKR's website was updated on May 5 to explain that the firm "experienced recent financial difficulties" and was "taking professional advice." The MPN network, of which PKR is a member, released a statement saying that the games were taken offline at PKR's request on May 3. At around the same time, PKR stopped responding to users' inquiries and even deleted its Twitter account. Alex Scott, MPN's head of poker, made a blog post that gave more details about PKR's decision to enter administration and disclaiming MPN from any responsibility for player funds. It later emerged that PKR had not paid the fee to maintain its license from the Alderney Gambling Control Commission, and so the license had been suspended on May 4.

Screenshot of PKR's Website

Screenshot of PKR's home page taken on May 15, 2017

 

What This Means for Players

While PKR did keep player funds in segregated accounts, this by itself just means that the money was off limits for the purposes of meeting day-to-day operating expenses. It doesn't protect account holders in the event of insolvency. Typically in these cases, the administrators of the defunct entity attempt to make creditors whole by distributing any remaining money to them, but players aren't at the head of the list. Bank loan liabilities and back wages for employees are usually given a higher priority. Individual players might be in for a prolonged wait and then only get cents on the dollar. Still, those with balances on the site can contact the administrators at pkr.restructuring[at]rsmuk.com. They have indicated that they will attempt to raise funds by selling the whole company or, if no buyers emerge, selling the poker software and user database.

In the past, some poker networks have bailed out troubled skins, but MPN is fundamentally opposed to doing so. Its stance is that it is just a software provider and that each of its customers is solely responsible for its own finances. When Purple Lounge and TUSK, former network partners, went bust and failed to repay players, MPN didn't do anything to compensate the affected people. Despite the fact that it's not legally liable for the poor business decisions of its customers, MPN's position does lead to situations where the reputation of the entire network becomes tarnished.

History of PKR

PKR was an eagerly anticipated addition to the poker landscape even before its launch in 2006. Acclaimed programmer Jez San, who designed the graphics co-processor in the hit SNES game "Star Fox," was instrumental in creating PKR's one-of-a-kind platform. It featured immersive, 3-D poker games, including animations and facial expressions. By all accounts, this was a completely new product, unlike anything available elsewhere.

Screenshot of PKR Poker Table

Despite the hype surrounding its opening, the site never really took off as a leading poker traffic destination. It was hurt by the fact that the UIGEA legislation was passed in the United States just after it opened its doors. Opting to take the safe route of exiting the U.S. market, management banked on eventually returning to the United States once a proper federal-level internet poker regulatory framework was established – an eventuality that never occurred, at least not in time to save PKR.

Somewhat disappointed but not discouraged, the company proceeded to reorient the independent online poker site toward Europeans. The room became a modest success, nestling into the ranks of well-regarded, yet small, poker companies, like Bodog and 888poker (both of which have incidentally since grown into behemoth organizations). It suffered another blow, however, in 2010 when France implemented strict regulations for online gambling, making it basically impossible for niche poker sites with tiny player volumes to successfully compete. After sticking it out for a few years, PKR stopped serving poker to French players in 2015, and it did the same thing in Italy following the implementation of a stricter regime in that country too.

Faced with the problem of not having enough players to keep games steadily running, PKR had to increase its liquidity somehow. In Feb. 2016, It opted to join the MPN poker network (also called Microgaming) to boost its sagging fortunes. Amazingly, players could still relish the 3-D poker action while seated at MPN tables because of the network's Babelfish API, which permits skins to use applications they develop themselves to access MPN games.

The decision to join a network raised high hopes for PKR, but it seems that it didn't have enough of a positive impact on the firm's bottom line. In a post-mortem thread on twoplustwo.com, some feel that the now-shuttered site should have explored its partnership options more vigorously at an earlier date before it was too late. Others think that the MPN deal was a mistake and that PKR would have done better by staying independent.

Looking for a new Poker Home?

If you're a former PKR player who's searching for a new place to enjoy card games, then check out our list of reputable poker rooms. Some of them offer flat rakeback percentages, but others instead deliver rewards through VIP programs, much as PKR used to.