This is a follow up to a piece I wrote not too long after Black Friday. That was also a time when I was stepping back into this industry after keeping it at an arm’s length for a while and not nearly as embedded as I am now. I had to rely on my knowledge of our government's procedures throughout history and that helps to keep my objectivity in play. In it I expressed my thoughts on how The US Department of Justice uses a method regulating “vices” that is a bit abrupt and tedious; and not consumer friendly. I like to call it "Speakeasy Regulation." Its pitfalls do not swallow its rewards no matter how deep they are. Think of the US Government as your parents. They see you doing something, stop you from doing it and then give it back to you with annoying rules and some sort of sacrifice. The sacrifice of taxes and regulations for online poker may not be the same as having the car home before 11PM and still be sober. Our childhoods may have differed. Right now cigarettes in some states cost $10 a pack that is outrageous. I would quit stone cold the day it was effective, yet it is still a mega industry all over, I may be in the minority. While I have the deepest empathy for all those that lost money, jobs and whatever else, I am not fully against the events of Black Friday.
What took place that day follows the same blueprint as the other vice regulations before it and you will probably be happier they did at some point. I have stood by a time of five years for the US to regulate poker and other online gaming. Many things will happen in a like it or not scenario before, yet I feel the timing is the most critical part. The haste of the voter to quickly gain back favor with its politicians and the reverse to get the vice back, only serves to produce a less than desirable product with duct tape rules. Five years from now may not be when we get the regulation for the first time, but I promise you it will be the first time we get it closer to correct. The real fear I have is the current candidates and our incumbent president use it to get elected thus needing a longer roll of duct tape. Political footballs are rarely caught by the voter in the end zone.
There is a part I do not mind, and proves my liberalism does not render my patriotism and love for this great land faulty or incorrect. The grey area as to whether the methods and claims by the DOJ were the most solid of charges is only an ideological issue and not a relevant one at this point. That is a little painful to say but the machine is already running, just let it go. They have put mobsters away for far less heinous crimes, still does not make them any less culpable to the bad, bad things they did do. This current Ponzi scheme accusation, true or not, is only another step in the prohibition process. One of the benefits of prohibition was that it stopped the bootleggers from indirectly negotiating the trade price of international goods into the US. It also helped stop the flow of bootlegger to bootlegger international trading. I’m certain they didn’t end the practice but they cleared the way for American companies to take seed and compete at home and abroad. It’s ok to swing the big stick once and a while or it becomes a cane. So how do they do that? The easiest way is to simply find a law they are breaking and take it all down. No law exists? Well we have many, they are convoluted… make one and then wait.
There is a cause for debate to the legality of whether or not a Ponzi scheme fits with Full Tilt. There lies an even murkier discussion on whether or not Full Tilt, Poker Stars and the rest were using fronts to funnel poker funds and if that is even a problem. It’s not really, loose personal freedom beliefs aside; you can sell me a rug online for chips at a poker table if needed. However, the US Government says those chips are not legal and thus not a product. If you’re selling me a rug, I better get a rug even if my credit card statement reads “golf balls.” Incidentally, I personally know that this practice was going on after the UIEGA long before the DOJ used it as a stepping stone. I am in no short detail alone. The latest Ponzi moniker is more of a propaganda method than a judiciary one. I recently spoke with Scott Long from "Ante Up Magazine," and he raised some great points on whether Ponzi works. I need to follow up and ask him if the law says no product exists, does Ponzi work now?
The same holds true for the pink elephant in the room, The Merge Gaming Network. There has been some scuttlebutt that the DOJ is ready to strike the hand of justice upon them. An example of what I refer to originally posted in the 2+2 Forum is HERE! Propaganda is my historically based assertion, not something I can attest to. They do have 10,000 players actively and ten times that in email database assets. The network started to leak information that they would re-allow Americans to sign up again. Currently only existing US players are allowed to play for real money. The threat of interdiction by the DOJ is their way of telling Merge, “Watch it buddy, we’re watching you!” In the end it is still my contention that Merge and any other network housing more than a few thousand players will get some sort of slap by the DOJ. Sports books are probably a safe bet for the next round. Still, all that will do, even though the current player will begrudgingly have to accept the terms while it unfolds, is create the right type of landscape for the most profitable poker they will ever see.
When it is all said and done and the markets are once again whole, the money is going to burst and spread like volcano ash. I doubt that any other country, not including the theocratic and monarchic ruled ones that exist, will continue to vilify online gaming if the US no longer does. The freedom of the marketplace will create some of the most amazing and off the wall bonuses and promotions that will give you the money to be the bad guy in an episode of "Miami Vice". If they ever get it right, it will be a fantastic spectacle. That is our dying empire's river card. The WSOP will have 20,000 entrants and could signal its brick and mortar downfall. Sure would be a lot easier to manage that kind of action online. At the very least it may keep the new crop of whippersnappers from raining on the senior’s casino parade. Once the TV money rolls back in and the stigmata are stitched up again, the recipe can go in the oven. Those are the last pieces you need for boatloads of F-U money to toss around. You will see satellites to win trips to actual satellites. The often misplaced component of the speakeasy style are the fringe companies and service providers that now troll in a much smaller pool of sea creatures. The marketplace opening up will quadruple their value day one, allow more to come and create competition, etc. The formula works in the end for all, bumpy ride or not. There has to come a point when we say to ourselves… “Self, this sucks, we’re screwed, how do we get out of it?” The player will benefit from this in time; I wish I knew how long that time will be.
And if you have made it this far, to my American friends who have a very important election coming up sooner than they may realize, I stress calculated caution. The Republicans have an interesting crop of cardboard cutouts to choose from this round and they are some of the cartoon wackiest yet. Obama or not, be very careful when you close that curtain. Take step back and be sure to not vote with your hole cards alone. Some of the candidates for the Republican nomination have some horrid ideas for what’s in your wallet. If those are the same ideas you have for it, pull the lever all day long down the line. That’s why you’re there. There will be free and legal big money poker again online; patience is an undervalued commodity, proven over time. A solid player, more aptly a winning player, would have a very rough go at calling my bluff there.