Gambling High

Thursday, October 19th, 2006, 11:46 am

Sorry if my writing have gotten a bit schitzophrenic lately, alternating between calls to the barricades and “Hey, I won a $10 SNG last night!”. These are strange days to be a poker blogger in America. We might be an endangered species, a fear that only deepened after I read Bill’s post on the UIGEA today (Bill also just posted about Neteller’s updated position vis-a-vis the UIGEA). I left my two cents in the comments, and unfortunately I pretty much agree with Bill’s (and Chuck Humphrey’s) analysis. Much of the “good” news coming out lately about online poker has struck me as something like whistling past the graveyard. I don’t think “business as usual” is a reasonable expectation at this point. Party’s immolation notwithstanding, we haven’t seen the full ramifications of this law yet, not by a long shot.

One point Bill raised hadn’t occured to me–let’s say Stars and Full Tilt defy the law and stay open for US business. What happens if, a year or two down the line, online poker becomes legal for licensed operators? How could these two companies, who openly violated federal law, now expect to have legitimacy conferred upon them? They’re in a really difficult position–grab market share and/or profits now before the well runs dry, or batten down the hatches and hope they can hang on until a can’t-be-too-distant future when online poker is legal? No one denies that there’s a gambling aspect to poker, and now it seems the same can be said about running a poker site.

Or running a poker blog. For nearly two years I’ve thought about changing my URL or starting a new blog that wasn’t so pokercentric. Now I have a bit more incentive to take that plunge. Federal laws will do that to you.

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4 Responses to “Gambling High”

  1. Guin Says:

    I had mentioned on doubleas site that when I spoke to the management team of neteller that they would comply with the law.

    Now lets be clear in that they would have to be considered similar to an online gambling site which they are hoping to lobby against.

    The fight isn’t over but if you look at Firepay they have closed themselves off to US clients. So lets hope that the rules are loose enough to allow neteller to continue to operate.

  2. doubleas Says:

    Legitimacy will come from 100K plus players remembering the sites that stayed open for them.

    Customer base is what its about in the online poker world. That is why Party ruled the poker world even though their software AND support sucked ass.

  3. Kevin Beane Says:

    I have been reading you for quite some time, and indeed I enjoy your writing so much you have become the only poker blogger I read regular(seriously).

    But, I’m only moved to comment now that I disagree.

    I guess the major bone of my contention is, did you seriously accuse the optimists in this debate of being unrealistic (“whistling past the graveyard”) in the same post as suggesting (apparently without irony) the possibilty of Them coming after you, micro-limit player and poker blogger, to throw you in jail?

    There’s many attorneys and many very smart people of all stripes coming down on the gloom-and-doom side, and likewise on the everything-is-fine side. No one really knows how it’s gonna play out.

    But if we start accusing the other side of being unrealistic, then we better make sure our own projections are rooted in evidence rather than philosophy. Nothing in the wording of this law nor in the Fristian rhetoric surrounding it by its proponents makes it sound like they have any interest in putting away Joe Slowroller.

    Such a theory can only be rooted in “slippery-slope” philosophy and emotion (“Well, every time we thought these a-hole politicos couldn’t think any lower, they did, so OF COURSE they would find some small-stakes players to make an example out of…”) rather than any sort of evidence. If the optimists are whistling past the graveyard, the pessimists are throwing themselves into open graves and scattering dirt on themselves. Neither way is “realistic.”

    To get to your more specific point (assuming I’m not missing it, and I might be)…if online poker becomes legal, I can’t really see the government caring enough to be vindictive against the sites that “openly flouted” the law, especially since (please let it be true) the sponsors and main pushers of UIGEA won’t be in power anymore if/when online poker legalization is realized. Not that it would matter, but none of these sites feel like they are openly flouting the law anyway. They feel, for whatever reason and to say nothing of the merit of their position, that the law doesn’t apply to them.

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