Will the New Poker Internet Be Safe?

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Georges Santayana

Thanks to a very slow moving US Attorney, we are still in the midst of a major poker industry scandal. Do you remember how electronic cheating was found on the now bankrupt Ultimate Bet/Absolute Poker network? Do you remember how all the customers of those internet web sites did not get their deposit accounts back? Are you still waiting to get your Full Tilt Poker deposit back? Indeed, will you ever get it back? These questions, and their answers, should be at the forefront of your mind if you are contemplating playing internet poker in the future.

 The big players, and some of the little ones, too, are jockeying for position to regain the internet poker business. This includes Federal and State governments hoping for added tax revenue. Everyone from the largest gaming company to State Lotteries, software purveyors, and just about anyone who has enough bucks to open a gambling web site, are vying for the prize of estimated billions to be gained from you, my dear readers, from once again playing poker on the internet. And rest assured, it will happen soon, although probably later rather than sooner.

 Now all these wonderful entrepreneurs and politicians advocating for internet poker, including some advocacy groups, have been paying lip service to protecting the players. In fact, this is one of the arguments being used to sell the idea of regulation, but NO ONE has come forth with a plan as to just how this will be done. You see, there really is no one who honestly cares (much) about your protection. All they really want is the ability to rake your money as you play.

 So, when is anyone going to tell us just how they will do this? Maybe never. Maybe this is just business as usual. Take the money and let the devil take the rest.

 Okay, since no one else has come forth with a real protection plan, it falls to me, Poker’s first publisher and real advocate for the players, to do so. Now remember that I am just one small voice in the wilderness. In the long run it is up to you to stand by your guns and insist that you will only play on poker web sites where you are properly protected, or you will see another scandal, and may just lose some more money to cheaters and scam artists who care only for profits and tax money.

 This is what is needed to protect your internet game:

 1) All sites offering cash games MUST carry top rated insurance for at least the total amount of their players’ deposits.

 2) Each regulating agency MUST carry top rated insurance for at least the total amount of the players’ deposits on all the poker web sites under their aegis.

 3) All player’s funds must be ring-fenced.

 4) Each regulating agency must have a member of their staff assigned to be on site with each internet poker site to constantly monitor their operations on a first hand basis. These monitors must be changed, not less than every three months, to avoid being corrupted.

5) Each web site, under the control of a regulator, must hire an accredited software inspection company to monitor its activities to ensure that cheating is not taking place.

 6) Each regulator must provide toll free access and e-mail access to an internal division that will monitor and investigate complaints by players of any irregularity suspected by a player.

These, dear readers, are the minimum standards to ensure your safety on the internet. Anyone who does not provide all of these conditions should be studiously avoided.

 Now, why aren’t these standards going to be adopted by internet poker purveyors? Well, the answer is the same reason they are wannabe operators… Money! You see these services will cost money, which means they will make less money if implemented. Now the truth is that internet poker rooms take similar rakes to brick and mortar card rooms, yet brick and mortar rooms have considerably greater expenses, like physical plant construction and maintenance; real live personnel to deal and supervise the games, actual physical equipment like chips and tables, temperature controls, and lots more. If the internet business were more competitive, rakes for playing on the internet should be considerably less than in a brick and mortar casino. But generally, they are not. Why not? The answer is the same…Money! Your money!

 Now, present and future internet poker players, the ball is in your court. You can increase your risk of not only losing when playing, but losing when you are winning, as many of you have already discovered. Or you can stand up and be counted. Insist on your games being protected, or, maybe you deserve to lose: You didn’t learn the lesson of history.

A fool and his money, are soon parted

Thomas Tusser