Friday, December 17, 2010

The Future... What Can We Bank On?

The Future... What Can We Bank On?Wanted to add a quick addendum to yesterday’s post in which I meditated a bit over the “UIGEA Monster.” There I basically whimpered about the apparent failure to tame the beast by legislative means (thus far, anyway), then wondered aloud about whether the law would ultimately have to be challenged in the courts for it to be stopped.

Grange95 -- keeper of the excellent crAAKKer blog -- correctly chastised me for throwing the “unconstitutional” adjective around (with reference to the UIGEA), and I realized afterwards that my use of the word betrayed my layman’s status when it comes to discussing both the legislative and judicial processes. I also thought a little further about how it’s wrong to abandon hope with regard to further attempts by lawmakers to help us fight the sucker. Even if the prospects for such are bleak, the legislative approach probably does remain the most likely path to doing something about the UIEGA.

It’s such a frustrating law. The way the “final rule” instructs banks and financial institutions to comply leaves them enough wiggle room to allow quite a bit of freedom with regard to making judgments about what constitutes a prohibited transaction. If you look at the “Frequently Asked Questions” about UIGEA compliance that the American Banking Association has provided the banks, it’s clear that the likelihood of one actually being found in violation of the law appears pretty darned slim.

Nonetheless, they are most certainly blocking transactions. Depositing is growing increasingly problematic. And even withdrawing has become a less simple matter for some, despite the fact that (as those final regulations stated) “[u]nder the final rule, the term ‘restricted transaction’ would not include funds going to a gambler, and would only include funds going to an Internet gambling business.” Check out Joe Tall’s problems getting funds from Full Tilt Poker, and PokerGrump’s recent adventure with Bodog for examples.

(Incidentally, I did manage a successful cashout from PokerStars not long ago -- not necessarily a seamless transaction, though much smoother than what Tall and the Grump experienced.)

Yesterday F-Train offered some cogent commentary about where all of this might be headed as we watch the UIGEA continue to gather momentum, discussing both the “continuing deterioration of payment processing” (very likely) and the possibility that U.S.-facing sites could eventually abandon the U.S. market as too difficult to deal with (less likely, though possible).

Whether or not sites abandon the U.S., I’d imagine a certain percentage of U.S. players probably will remove themselves from the online game -- in some cases out of necessity, and in others because the hassles simply become too great to endure.

If they haven’t already, that is.

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Blogger Grange95 said...

My nit-picking yesterday wasn't with you personally, but rather was an expression of my ongoing frustration with many poker players who seem to think that there is some magic bullet lawsuit that will sweep away all restrictions and laws that prevent the free and unregulated playing of poker, whether online or in private games. I don't know if this attitude is a result of the PPA's pro-poker propaganda, or a misunderstanding of the roles of legislatures and courts, or something else, but the constant cries for more litigation and appeals (and the resulting criticisms of the inevitable adverse judicial rulings) just really puzzle me.

I agree the UIGEA is horribly flawed. Litigation, however, merely distracts us from the tough task of persuading Congress to make UIGEA workable with online poker.

12/17/2010 12:23 PM  
Blogger Grange95 said...

BTW, Hard-Boiled Poker got my vote for the Bluff Magazine best poker blog award. A well-deserved nomination, regardless of the final voting.

12/17/2010 12:25 PM  
Blogger Sean G said...

Unfortunately, without a repeal of UIGEA, the online market for the US will only shrink further and further. The weaker competition online has disappeared over the years, and will continue to do so imo in our current state.

Visiting local cardrooms or casinos and playing in $50-100 tournaments shows that there are plenty of really weak players out there, and they won't make the switch to online until it's clearly legal. On FTP or PS, only non-US players are potentially as bad as half the people seen in live low stakes games.

12/17/2010 12:28 PM  

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