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Wow! Just, Wow!

April 16, 2011

I’m late to the game in posting about today’s developments in the world of online poker and, honestly, I’m questioning whether I should be writing anything on this topic at all. That said, I just can’t help myself.

For reasons obvious to some, I’m not going to comment on whether I think the DOJ has a legitimate case. Add to that the fact that I’m not an attorney and any legal opinions I may have are worth about what the money in my online accounts is worth right now. Zip.

Everybody knows that today’s actions were bad, but I’m not sure if everyone has fully grasped the repercussions that the crackdown will have on the poker economy as a whole. Full Tilt and Stars are more than just the biggest two poker sites that were operating in the states. They’re drivers of a whole industry that revolves around their players, television programs and live tournaments around the world.

As I write this, a number of my friends are getting trashed on Pisco Sours down in Peru where they’re covering the end of a LAPT event for PokerStars and PokerNews. The sad fact is, though, this may be the end of poker reporting as we know it.

Providing live tournament coverage is expensive and resource intensive, and sites like PokerNews can’t exist without financial underwriting provided by sites like Stars and Tilt. With those players now out of the US market, there’s no reason for them to be spending resources on tournament reporting when that money can be better spent on the high-priced legal teams they’re undoubtedly going to need to put in place. Bottom line – that WSOP coverage that everyone has been gearing up for next month probably isn’t going to happen.

Of course, that may not be the worst thing in the world as today’s crackdown will surely impact the size of this year’s WSOP. All those online qualifiers that send thousands of hopefuls to Vegas every summer? Yeah, they’re gone. And online players who were thinking of raiding their bankrolls to finance this summer’s live shenanigans in Vegas? They’re not going to be seeing that money anytime soon.

Who else is going to be impacted by Friday’s bombshell? How about the folks who produce all of the great poker programming we like to watch? Do you really think there will be any new episodes of Poker After Dark or The Big Game? Don’t you think that ESPN is suddenly rethinking their plans for their coverage of this year’s Main Event? You can bet that the production companies and TV networks are all going to be hedging their bets and looking for new programs to fill their production and broadcast schedules.

Let’s not forget the poker mags like Bluff and CardPlayer who live on advertising revenue provided by the big online sites. With no US players, there’s reason for the sites to spend money on new ad buys, which means those publications will probably make it to press a few more times before their money runs out.

Other folks who will probably be scrambling for new revenue streams are the people who run online poker training sites like CardRunners, PokerVT and the like. Their US customer base just disappeared along with the ability to sit at real money tables. While I’m at it, I should probably mention folks like the agents at PokerRoyalty who just saw their commissions go down the drain. And the players who make their living by spending their days grinding online all day. I’m sure there’s a whole group of 20-somethings in Panorama Towers who are all learning how to say “Would you like fries with that?”

I could go on, but I’ll just end up depressing myself and that’s no fun. So, I’ll leave you all with this thought; What happened today was most definitely bad for poker in the short term, but if it prompts Congress to finally take a serious look at the regulation of online poker, then there may be some long-term benefits.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Marc permalink
    April 18, 2011 7:01 am

    Jon,

    Do you really think Congress is going to take a serious look at regulating poker? I just don’t have that much faith that they’re going to do something rational that would actually help the nation.

    It boggles my mind that during a period of time where we need to do everything possible to create jobs in this country, the government takes action that will destroy thousands of jobs.

  2. katkin permalink*
    April 18, 2011 10:31 am

    I do actually think Congress will take a look at regulating online poker, but not because it’s good for the economy, which I believe it is.

    The fact is, the push toward regulation was moving along quite nicely up until Friday because the big casino companies like Caesars, MGM and now, even Wynn, have all come to the conclusion that there’s too much money there for them to ignore. They’re applying pressure to make it a legitimate market.

    What the post-regulation world will look like is anyone’s guess, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that Stars and FTP won’t be players unless they cut some sort of deal with the feds and pay huge fines. Even then, I’m not sure they’ll be able to survive on their own. So, while I think we’ll be able to play online again sometime in the next two years, I don’t where that will be.

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