Ask any of the sex trade workers that industry rounder Aaron Gould calls ‘friends’ and you’ll get the same answer: Aaron would rather pretend he’s something he’s not than do the work of actually becoming that guy. Gould has recently been telling others in the online gaming industry that he is variously either the COO or CEO of Sportsbook.com. If either is true, this is indeed unfortunate for Sportsbook.com’s owners and employees. However, given that Gould was fired from his last job for incompetence and well, telling stories, this promotion would be an impressive rebound.
Given Gould’s fondness for tall tales, you’ll understand our reluctance to take his latest claims on faith. However, the news that Sportsbook.com has decided to leave the US market appears to confirm that Sportsbook.com is indeed being run by Gould. It’s a vintage Aaron move: pretend to do something that nobody with half a brain would ever believe, immediately get busted for it, then pretend it will never happen again.
In reading the small print on Sportsbook.com’s announcement, it seems all they’re really saying is that they aren’t accepting any new players. They’re still taking bets and deposits and issuing payouts to their existing players, and therefore not really leaving the US market at all. Our read on what’s happening here is that Sportsbook.com has been hit hard by post-Black Friday eCom restrictions and simply cannot take on any more business, so they don’t see the need to do any more advertising.
This is where it looks like Aaron has put his stamp on the process. If you’re not doing any advertising, why not simultaneously announce that you’re leaving the US market and thereby pull the wool over those simple minded heads at the DoJ? In the meantime, Sportsbook.com can still rely on organic search to drive a small amount of new traffic that they likely can accommodate, and this traffic will be ‘free’ since it didn’t require any marketing spend or affiliate fees. So, in reality, nothing has changed at Sportsbook.com beyond a temporary halt to marketing and affiliate spend while they try to figure out how to do eCom in the new world order.
Sportsbook.com owns the Merge Gaming Network. If Sportsbook.com are having eCom problems, it follows that Merge is experiencing the same woes. We wonder how long they will continue to harbor the net liquidity-draining microsites like Jennifer Larson’s Lock Poker. (The problems with Lock’s model are outlined in detail here.) In an ironic twist, it’s hard not to conclude that the American owners of Sportsbook.com are wishing they’d only pretended to hire Aaron Gould.