Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Future (of Online Poker) Looks Predictable

When I wrote Part One of this series, a friend commented on my Facebook posting of the article about my political take.  Now, this friend, who we’ll call “Mike #2” (because that’s his name), shares similarities with me besides the moniker.  We’re both from the Midwest (I’m transplanted to Oregon, though), we’re both poker players and chip collectors, we both love dogs (I’m currently dog-less; he has a new corgi-mix and I love corgis, though I’ve had Eskimos and Samoyeds in the past), and we’re both older men watching our waistline.  And there are probably some other things we share.

Politics isn’t one of them.

We’ve tangled good-naturedly (I hope that was good natured) about a host of issues - and every time I’m way over here on the left, and he’s over there on the right.  He needed me (rightly so) that it was Obama’s administration that brought the hammer down on Black Friday (though they were enforcing the UIGEA, brought to you in 2006 by you-know-who).  And he ripped me a new one on my example of congressional disarray in the recent Cabinet hearings/approvals.  And no doubt we’ll tangle again.

But when it comes to online poker, we’re on the same side.  That’s because both the GOP and the Dems are of one mind here.  In the distant past, there have been matters of morality or rights or touchy-feely concerns that have caused one party or the other to cast a frown on the promotion of gambling.  But in the last 20-30 years, with Lotteries, Indian Casinos, Riverboat Casinos, Racinos (horse-track casinos), and a virtual explosion of gaming (don’t call it gambling) helping states from Maine to California with their bottom lines, there is only ONE issue that makes legislators turn their heads:

EM OH EN EE WHY.  Money.  Cash.  Dollars.  Dinero.  Cold, hard bucks.  Franklin Mint Chip.

Nevada licenses are being handed out to qualified vendors, but…this article from the Las Vegas Sun ( indicates it’s only the big fish that need apply.  The law is pretty restrictive, requiring, “…a $500,000 operating license to enter the online gambling market and restricts licenses largely to resort hotels -- a legal definition including 200 hotel rooms, a 24-7 restaurant, a bar and a casino floor-- with a non-restricted gaming license.” (LVS, 3/3/13) 
Exactly WHY does an online poker room need 200 hotel rooms?  This would be akin to only allowing firms to develop “horseless carriages” that had at least 100 stables, 24/7 access to buggy whips, and a ton of hay.  Obviously the guys with the money want to keep the money and they HATE HATE HATE competition.  And their friends in Carson City helped them keep it that way.

Want more proof?  The new law in New Jersey is similar, so, naturally, if one wants to be in the online poker biz, one needs to own a casino there.  And that’s what PokerStars is trying to do, much to the consternation of the American Gaming Association and the folks who pay their way (major casino owners).  In a story reported in CardPlayer (and elsewhere (, the AGA says PokerStars should not be approved, “because the integrity of the gaming industry would be gravely compromised by any regulatory approval of PokerStars, a business built on deceit, chicanery, and systematic flouting of U.S. law.”  To their credit, PokerStars deflected the hit, saying that “…the U.S. Department of Justice explicitly gave it permission to reenter the U.S. if licensed by a state and that it was allowed to bail out Full Tilt Poker.”  Other countries where PS does work in tandem with those in power (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Belgium, and others) might take umbrage with the AGA.

It’s already been almost two years since US players were frozen from playing online poker for money (legally), and, of course, the jockeying to make it so (officially) started longer before Black Friday. Expect the dragging of heels to continue, as they big boys with the big toys (and the bankrolls to buy them) battle it out.  It will be fierce, it will be bloody, and it will be over when someone pays someone some serious money.

When/if online poker does make its debut in Nevada or New Jersey, expect the one with all the toys to win, eventually.  It’s so predictable.

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