Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tick, Tick, Tick: 60 Minutes Looking at Absolute Poker

Absolute Poker scandal may be featured on '60 Minutes'Well, whaddya know. Apparently that there Absolute Poker insider cheating scandal isn’t going to vanish away after all.

Yesterday Nat Arem reported he had been contacted by 60 Minutes and the Washington Post for quotes regarding the AP scandal, and that 60 Minutes co-anchor Steve Croft was interested in interviewing him and Serge “Adanthar” Ravitch on camera. No word on when (or if, even) the piece may ultimately reach air, although something tells me a certain, celebrated poker event scheduled for early summer might provide a nifty segue for the person introducing the segment that Sunday night on CBS.

I think this is terrific news. The scandal and Absolute Poker’s handling of it were not just disgraceful, but criminal. Any negative repercussions a 60 Minutes exposé might bring to the site are entirely deserved. That seems plain enough.

Of course, there are some who are currently fretting about what angle 60 Minutes might choose to take with the story. Will they focus primarily on the wrongdoings down in Costa Rica, exposing (finally) the guilty as they deserve? Will they play up the admittedly fascinating super-sleuthing of Arem, Ravitch, and others who helped crack the case? Will they touch at all on how all this fits into the current legal imbroglio fostered by the UIGEA and those soon-to-be-finalized regulations . . . ?

Or will the story present the Absolute Poker scandal as evidence supporting some sort of comprehensive thesis damning the entire online poker industry? In other words, while the story is surely a positive insofar as it will shed light on Absolute Poker’s sorry behavior and treatment of its customer base, will there be collateral damage here? Will the online poker industry somehow suffer as a result of such negative press about AP?

Nolan Dalla fears as much. In a PokerListings article yesterday, Dalla says he worries that “the target” of the story will not be “the creep” (i.e., A.J. Green) “or Absolute Poker (which deserves scrutiny) -- but rather the entire online poker industry.”

Dalla goes on to point out that while, in his opinion, there is “no chance” the UIGEA will be revoked nor will any of the other proposed bills (e.g., Barney Frank’s IGREA) be passed by the current Congress, it bothers him that “public perceptions will be shaped for a long time by what is shown and seen by 20 million viewers on 60 Minutes.”

“I fear the portrait will be ugly -- a slimy, unregulated, corrupt band of outlaws operating way outside the boundaries of the law or justice,” writes Dalla. “Never mind that many online sites are publicly traded companies with top-flight managers and personnel, and are strictly regulated within their host countries. Perception and reality are two completely different things.”

Is Dalla right? Should those of us who play online poker be worried? Will a 60 Minutes segment showing the world what happened at Absolute Poker last summer and fall bring undue harm to the industry in general, and a lot of extra headaches for those of us who like to play?

A couple of thoughts come to mind here.

For one, I don’t quite understand these fears about what might happen should the “entire online poker industry” start receiving “scrutiny.” Indeed, it is the lack of scrutiny that helps create an environment where scandals such as the one that happened at Absolute Poker are more likely to occur. Dalla himself points out that many online sites are, in fact, well-managed and regulated. If so, it would seem to follow that most of the industry could, in fact, withstand whatever close inspection Steve Kroft and his merry crew might bring.

Secondly, for those who truly worry about the effect the 60 Minutes story might have on “public perception,” tell me which you would prefer:
(1) The public to believe (wrongly) that the online poker industry is run by “a slimy, unregulated, corrupt band of outlaws operating way outside the boundaries of the law or justice”; or,

(2) That really to be the case.
‘Cause if you are against stories like the Absolute Poker scandal being told, well, you’re just making it easier for us all to get to the second option.

* * * * *

The 400 PostsDamned if this doesn’t make 400 posts. Had thought I might engage in a bit of navel-gazing today, but as you can see, something else came up.

Just as well. I’m sure there are more than enough of them self-reflexive, whazzit-all-about type posts among the first 399, for those who want to go searching for such applesauce. (You can try out that fancy new search feature I added a couple of weeks ago.)

Big thanks again to everyone for reading & all them good vibes.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are quite correct that we are better off with a well-moderated and controlled gaming environment but they way things are looking at the moment this scandal could be just the tip of the iceberg. Do you think it will provide extra pressure for legalization and proper regulation?

3/11/2008 3:33 AM  
Blogger OhCaptain said...

I fear the fishes leaving the bowl, that being said...

Congrats on the post-aversary!

Have I really read 400 posts? My goodness!

3/11/2008 6:25 AM  
Blogger cheer_dad said...

I want the story to be told, but doubt that the focus will remain on Absolute Poker, but will stray into sensationalism and they'll find some college kid who flunked out of school and lost his tuition and beer money playing online poker.

Congratulations on post #400... now double it!



3/11/2008 7:07 AM  
Blogger Klopzi said...

Or will the story present the Absolute Poker scandal as evidence supporting some sort of comprehensive thesis damning the entire online poker industry?


3/11/2008 9:30 AM  
Blogger Ignatious said...

damn, 400 posts already?

well done.

while i give the 60 minutes piece about a 5% chance of actually airing, i think it would be a huge step in the right direction for the industry.

things need to be addressed.

3/11/2008 11:09 AM  
Blogger Random Table Draw said...

Its gotta get out, if not, its just going to happen again, and again and again...and again.

Congrats on 400 posts!

3/11/2008 2:42 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

I am in the camp that the 60 minutes piece, if ever actually aired, will be worse and not better for the precarious post-UIGEA situation of funding and playing online poker in the U.S. Here's hoping I am wrong on that count.

Great job on 400 posts. The next 600 should be even better.

3/12/2008 1:45 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Yes . . . while I have my view, I see how this is definitely a debatable issue. (Has produced a semi-decent thread over on 2+2, btw.)

Thx, all!

3/12/2008 2:23 PM  

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