Sunday, January 8, 2012

Poker 2012, Part 2 - Pessimism

OK, you’ve read why I feel optimistic about being able to play LEGAL online poker sometime this year, and this post takes the opposite view.  (If you didn’t read the Optimistic post, you might want to because this post makes references to it, and…well, this one is so much more so of a downer.  Be happy).

Why I am Pessimistic:

1.  Whatever happens will need the involvement of POLITICIANS.  ‘nuff said.  Especially on the Federal (read: dysfunctional) level.

2.  Whatever happens, be it Federal legislation (doubtful) or State sanctified (more likely), there will still be a need for some sort of overall Federal “OK” be it DOJ ruling, Congressional exception, etc. etc. etc.  Usually the Feds tell you what you CAN’T do, not what you CAN, and their interpretations have been…well…somewhat confusing at best.  Clarity, please.  Also, see #1.

3.  As I mentioned in the Optimistic post, states could have intra-state online poker up and running this year, but…populations being what they are, these games would only attract in-state players, which isn’t a big pool, and can’t compete with the behemoths of online poker days gone by (read: PokerStars).

4.  Yes, intra-state poker could give way to inter-state play (it almost would have to in order to be successful).  But again, this might require some sort of OK from the Feds.  See #2 and #1, especially #1.

5.  In a hurry to get things going, some state could take shortcuts, miss something, and screw it up big time.  By this I mean they could accidentally allow someone underage or not of that state to play, and the uproar might kill it for everyone.

6.  Not everyone is on the same page.  There are several Nevada gaming concerns looking positive on online poker, finally…but still others (Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson and now M Resort President Anthony Marnell III) oppose such moves.  We’re not all one big happy family.

7.  Perhaps more of a concern should be that those who were once against it are now (supposedly) for it.  Texas Rep Joe Barton (R) introduced the Online Poker Act of 2011.  A long-standing opponent of online gaming, his act seeks “clarification” but some have wondered what his motives really are.  The AGA was against it, the PPA for it.  Oh, the full name of his bill: “The Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection, and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2011  Another “what side is he really on?” player would be AZ Senator Jon Kyl - he has made comments to the effect of softening his stance (he’s been one of online gambling harshest foes).  He was one of two Senators who pushed the DOJ on their recent Wire Act ruling (Senator Reid-NV the other).  With friends like these…

Until such time when it all gets sorted out, US poker player live in that horrible state of limbo.  Some are making tiny deposits on some sites that say they “welcome” US players (and of course, the suspicions remain).  Some are stepping up their play to live brick and mortar action (great for those who live near a card room or casino, no option for those of us who live 2+ hours from a table).  Some are “content” to play for free on sites like Zynga (or still, for free, at non-US sites like PokerStars). 

And some plop down $19.95 a month to play at “subscription” sites like NLOP, CardPlayer, and the new ClubWPT.  Yeah…I’ll have something to say about sites like these later…when the dust settles.

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