It’s been a busy 24 hours, to say the least. The anti-online forces have suffered a tremendous body blow, and everyone seems to be talking about it. Me, too. This post is as much as a personal reminder sheet as it is commentary, as there’s been so much written and said, so fast. So let’s begin (everything has a link – don’t panic).
It all started (for me) with a Facebook post from PPA’s VP Rich Muny on April 28th – OK, that’s more than 24 hours ago, but this was the catalyst of it all. Muny pointed out some of Jim Thackston’s emails on Internet Gaming security to casino companies like Harrah’s (now Caesar’s) read more like extortion notes than helpful advice. Muny points out that Thackston’s interest went from do-gooder pro-online poker to anti-online gloom and doom for financial reasons – his own. This was followed up by a second Facebook post from Muny pointing out that one of Thackston’s companies - CONCIERGE HOLDINGS, INC. – has as an officer one Bill Byers, the same Bill Byers Thackston and political pundit/anti-gambling foe Cheri Jacobus point to as having a demo that shows (on play money sites) that it might be possible to launder money through online poker.
In reading the link to CONCIERGE, I saw that the VP was Hilbert Shirey. Having the unusual last name of Exinger, I am one to remember others with unusual names. And somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered Shirey having poker connections, so I “wiki’d” his name – and find that Dewey Tomko is his neighbor (they live in the same city) and is a longtime golf partner (according to Wiki). The same Dewey Tomko that supposedly penned an anti-online screed/editorial – with Bill Byers. So I passed this info on to Muny, and he updated his post.
Then Nolan Dalla got involved, and we’re all thankful for that. For he knows Tomko, and claimed that something smelled fishy. And today, he wrote a blast of an article that recalls his last-night phone conversation with Tomko – the gist being that Tomko had NOTHING to do with the editorial (and a bunch of other stuff that makes it pretty clear that this is a position that he could not have taken).
From here, all hell has broken loose, and there are still more shoes to drop.
Writer Steve Ruddock, who initially called out Tomko for his stance, has courageously apologized. Ruddock said he had initial reservations, and now says he “…was hoodwinked by a usually reliable media outlet.” We’ll get to that “usually reliable media outlet” in a moment. Others have jumped on the “bury Thackston/Byers/Jacobus” moment – Johnny G and Haley Hintze, to name two (both have been critical before, but hey, there’s blood in the water). Finally, the folks at F5Poker.com have been trying to get a response from the “usually reliable media outlet” – The Press of Atlantic City (who ran the original Byers/Tomko editorial) – to confirm/deny its authenticity. From their article:
When we called and talked to Editorial Page Editor Jim Perskie at the Press of Atlantic City he indicated that an email of verification was sent back to both parties and that, via a Google search, they were who they said they were. Upon further pressing of how this op-ed came to be, we were stopped with: “I’ve got nothing for you.”
For the other side, Thackston stands by Tomko’s role, tweeting:
@Haley_Hintze @CheriJacobus @RichMuny @ACPressTopNews Mr. Tomko may have changed his mind but he certainly co-authored the op-ed.
Cheri Jacobus merely cites Thackston’s tweet as “proof” of the authenticity. There are others who are trying to get to the bottom of all this (Ruddock, Dalla, and John Mehaffey). There is bound to be plenty more in the days ahead, but, as Dalla summarized:
Someone is lying. Someone is making things up. Someone needs to be exposed as soon as possible and all those who have used any evidence or testimony from such an individual should be dismissed immediately as sources who are not credible.
And nowhere in all of this have I mentioned Sheldon Adelson’s name. Ain’t that a bitch?
I’m sure it will come up soon.