If you're scanning the list of the hundreds of domain endings being launched in 2014-16, some of them stick out. Either because they are too absurd (e.g. .wtf), or because they just seem so obvious. I think that .poker has the elements to be one of the successful domain extensions over time: The natural term, a market with intense online competition and very tech savvy players.
Poker Domain Names are here
In this blog post I will help you understand the nature of .poker domain names, and how they should be used. This is of course mainly interesting, if you're involved in the poker industry. But in the following we touch upon general considerations, when you consider the new domain endings. I talked to the .poker operator Afilias and one potential user of .poker domains, the largest Danish betting site Danske Spil.
Interview with Afilias' Roland LaPlante and Brett Samuels
I caught up with CMO Roland LaPlante and Brand Manager Brett Samuels from Afilias, the Registry behind .poker. What is their launch plan and why should you register .poker domain names?
Sunrise and Landrush results
With 300 initial Sunrise registrations and 491 Landrush applications, they were very content with the initial reception of .poker. Brett Samuels listed a number of high profile brands among early stage registrants including basically any Vegas casino on The Strip such as MGM, general betting sites and news sites such as PokerNews. Here is an overview: Casinos: Bally’s, Borgata, Caesars Palace, Mirage, Monte Carlo, etc.Online gaming sites: Bovada, Fulltilt, Grosvenor, World Series Poker, etc. Communities:PocketFives News/Blogs: PokerNews, Boyle Sports Poker 38 of the 491 Landrush applications went into auction incl. such attractive domain names as bitcoin.poker, download.poker, highstakes.poker, virtual.poker, and world.poker.
The .poker marketing plan
They expect a steady growth. Brett states that they're very determined on creating awareness, and they believe that the way forward is to promote .poker domain names at poker sites, such as the before mentioned PokerNews. Roland LaPlante adds that offline is another marketing channel for them attending trade shows, where card manufacturers and other poker suppliers are advertising. This strategy served them well when initially promoting .organic. Brett adds that there are thousands of domain names with the term poker in them, and it's also part of their strategy to reach out to these domain owners if possible. At the same time, they're working on an ongoing co-marketing effort called the “partners program”, where they are in talks with various early adopters, who have presented an original concept. If you're involved in the poker industry and have a great idea, then they're interested, they told me.
So why should you go for .poker domain names?
Roland says that ".poker is all about branding and memorability in a very competitive business. It's time to understand that .com says nothing about your brand. It's a random term. This is a unique opportunity to get a much more effective marketing address".
Brett adds that poker is "a very dynamic space with new games being launched and new tournaments coming up all the time. There's a need for new spots, and now you can get the name you want, in the business you're in. Be aware that Poker.org was one of the most expensive domains ever sold (sold at SEDO in 2010 for USD 1M - most expensive .org ever) showing that there is a huge demand to offer more options".
How about the US market? Will online poker be liberalized?
Only New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada allow online poker. To get a license you need to be a land based operator - and that's not easy. Just ask the world's biggest online poker site - PokerStars. They have now in vain tried to get a partner deal in Atlantic City the last two years). It could be that the whole US market will be liberalized at one point. As Roland points out "If they can tax it and track it - it will be legal". This could mean a huge boost to the .poker TLD, when start-ups pick their domain names.
Danske Spil and .poker
Kristian Baekgaard has worked at Danish betting market leader Danske Spil as online commercial manager responsible for numerous online marketing campaigns and the entire affiliate programme. How does he see the new .poker domain names for betting companies? "Anyone in such a competitive business are looking at how to get an edge. With adverting click prices starting at EUR 1.50 then a .poker could be a good investment. Now all the activities on the Danske Spil site uses sub-domains for danskespil.dk, however I could see that the poker guys were allowed to have some fun with .poker". When informed about upcoming .lotto and .bingo he adds that "In the first place it's important to secure the domain names of the brand. In the longer run I definitely see some ways to advertise with these names". Check if your .poker domain name is available here.