UK-based online gambling operator 888 has taken a step to protect its recreational poker players by ordering tournament-tracking site SharkScope to stop harvesting player data from 888’s tables. On Wednesday, SharkScope published a statement on its website lamenting the “extremely disappointing” development, which “has come as a surprise” given the site’s multi-year relationship with 888Poker. SharkScope says it offered to modify its setup to require 888 players to opt-in to the data collection scheme, but 888 “declined all the options we have put forward.”
In response, 888 posted a notice to the 2+2 forums, stating that it “does not give permission for any data mining sites to access our poker room, and we actively enforce this policy. Data mining is a violation of our EULA (End User License Agreement) and copyright law.” 888 said its policy was intended to “protect game integrity” by preventing tracking sites from “providing data on your game play and potentially selling it on to third parties.”
SharkScope has encouraged its players to email 888 to ask them “why they have done this and how it will effect [sic] you as a player and what you might do about it.” However outraged SharkScope users may feel, 888 isn’t likely to change its mind, given the industry-wide shift away from prioritizing the needs/wants of multi-table grinders. That policy has been long championed by the Bodog Poker Network, which blocked such tracking sites over two years ago as part of the network’s recreational player model, best exemplified by BPN’s fully anonymous tables, the gold standard antidote to data scrapers.
The industry trend to create a more level playing field for its recreational players led to SharkScope’s adoption of an opt-in system on PokerStars after the poker giant went on the warpath against data mining sites a year ago. A year later, Stars instituted a ‘no bumhunting’ policy. Meanwhile, companies such as 188Bet and iPoker have flirted with optional anonymous play.
What’s more, the new online poker regulations in Nevada – where 888 will power Caesars Interactive Entertainment’s WSOP.com site – make it unlawful to use any device that either keeps track of cards played or analyzes strategy for playing or betting to be used in the game. Twenty years from now, will aging online poker players hoist their grandchildren on their knees and bore them to tears with tales of their glory days before tracking software became extinct?