The following report was collectively compiled and written by the Up For Poker staff. This is the first of a series of such reports-- Ed.
The banking industry response to the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act is something in which we can take some heart. The banks were initially afraid the bill would hold them liable for not enforcing the law. Now, bankslawyers are telling them that it appears the banks' exposure is limited. While it would've been good for us if the banks had more exposure (if they had, they would be fighting harder for legal challenges to the bill), there is a silver lining evidenced in this quote.
If they find that the banks just don't have the technology to track and block these transactions, then we don't have to," Verdier said. "The Fed and Treasury are not supposed to ask us to do the impossible."
Still, Verdier said, "we will have to see how those regulations get written."
For more, check out the Banking Industry Response to Internet Gambling Bill.
Of course, the most immediate concern for us is what's happening to our online experience in the interim.
As we already know, Party Poker is a publicly traded company (Party Gaming) on the London Exchange. Along with 888.com (Pacific Poker), Party Poker announced it will pull out of the U.S. market once President Bush signs the bill into law. This is the business equivalent of sticking a gun (like the Desert Eagle) in your mouth and then jumping off the rim of the Grand Canyon into a swimming pool full of jello. That is, it looks like suicide, then it looks like suicide again, and then it looks pretty silly and messy. There is a lot of speculation that Party is positioning itself to get absorbed into a smaller online poker company (like William Hill) and get out while it can. Killing 80% of its market and losing more than 60% of its market value is the perfect way to do this. Of course, it would also save the stockholders a lot of money. However, all of this is speculation. Here's Party's only public statement to date:
In poker, the good players are playing Level Three cards at all time. On the face of the poker rooms' response, it appears there is a lot of Level 1 thinking going on. That said, we would all be smart to realize that these companies were formed in most part by poker players. They didn't get where they were by just playing their own cards. It seems there is likely more Level 3 going on that we realize. Even if it's true that Party is giving up on the first business day after the bill passed, other poker rooms don't seem to be giving in so easy. And why not? If the biggest poker room in the world pulls 80% of its business from the United States and then pulls out... well, that's a lot more business for everybody else.
Full Tilt has already made a public statement indicating it isn't going anywhere right now. Bodog and Ultimate Bet have done the same. PokerStars, despite reports that it had already made a decision to pull out, is remaining quiet except to assure their customers that their money is safe (PokerStars was the first poker room to sign up with the Royal Bank of Scotland to house players money in segregated accounts, thus making sure that a total company collapse wouldn't result in players' money being lost). Ever played with a really quiet player? Yeah, we have too.
One of the worst things you can do when playing poker is take your eye off the ball. When the table villain bad beats you for your stack, the natural reaction is to get him back. You lay in wait and do everything you can to repay the injustice. While this can be emotionally satisfying, it also takes your eye off the ball and leaves you vulnerable to other people who want to take you out. That's a too-long preamble to the following: Frist got lucky once. He's not a good player. Indeed, there would be a lot of emotional satisfaction in making sure the man has no future successes. However, taking our eyes off the real issue here will only serve to make us more vulnerable in the future. Hence, let's make sure we continue to focus on making sure the pet legislation doesn't turn into the end of our poker experience. There will be time to make sure Frist never takes on a greater leadership role. However, if you need to vent, get it out of your system now. Here's where you can contact Frist:
Bill Frist Contact infomation
Office of Senator Bill Frist
509 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
Office of Senator Bill Frist
28 White Bridge Road
Nashville, TN 37205