Thursday, November 27th, 2008, 9:42 pm
This Sunday 60 Minutes will run it’s long-awaited story on the cheating that took place at UltimateBet and Absolute Poker (I write for UltimateBet, in case you didn’t know). The trailer to the piece is on the CBS website and begins thusly–"We should tell you that this $18 billion industry is illegal in the U.S.". I think the accuracy of that rather sensational statement is open to question, and I certainly doubt that statement is going to educate the show’s viewers about online poker’s confusing legal landscape.
I’m not going to talk about the piece until I actually see it (I’ll have other things to say as well) but one thing that’s already come out about the story is that no one from UB agreed to appear on camera. Paul Leggett, the COO of UB, wrote about this today in a post at the new UB blog. Titled "Did I Make the Right Decision?", Paul talks about the interviews (both on- and off-the record) he conducted and his eventual decision not to grant an on-camera interview. And here’s how he arrived at that decision:
We provided the Washington Post with on-the-record responses to over 150 questions. I personally gave an off-the-record interview with Gil Gaul from the Washington Post and met with Ira Rosen, a producer from 60 Minutes. I had numerous calls with them over those eight months and tried to answer their questions the best I could. Over the many months they were developing their story, I struggled with the decision as to whether to grant them with an on-camera interview. At first, I was very hesitant to grant the interview because this was by far the highest profile media I have ever dealt with in my life. But after talking at length with the two gentlemen, it became very obvious to me that they had no interest in telling a fair story. They were only interested in getting me on camera to try and make me and my company look bad. Basically, it came down to them wanting to produce a sexy story about the “dark underbelly” of online poker and embellish it with details of the cheating scandal. Knowing this, I decided not to grant the on-camera interview and instead just provide them with a written statement.
I know a lot of you have been closely following this story for the better part of a year and I wanted people to know what Paul wrote. During today’s Titans-Lions football game Jim Nantz promoted the story by saying, "A great poker swindle; how some players stole $20 million and got away with it". Again, rather a sensationalistic take on the subject, and not exactly accurate. But best to reserve judgement until the piece actually airs.
By the by, hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. I have leftovers parked in the fridge waiting for my tummy to clear.
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