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Online Poker News
October 09, 2006  
© 2006 Randy Saylor  

October 2: Harrah’s receives buyout offer

Harrah’s, the parent company of the World Series of Poker, confirmed it received a buyout bid from an investor’s group. Harrah’s would not comment on the specifics of the deal and would only say that it was reviewing the offer.

The offer is believed to exceed $15 Billion USD, which is a 22% premium over Friday’s stock close. The timing of this deal is interesting, coming only two days after a possible internet gambling ban on US residents.

October 2: Time Magazine checks out teenagers playing poker

The October 2 issue of Time magazine includes an interesting article called “Parents for Poker” that takes a fair and impartial look at the realities of teens and young adults who play poker. Nathan Thornburg’s article first looks at a Torrance, California couple that encourages their teen son to play poker against his friends for money. The parents’ logic is that poker teaches him interpersonal, mathematic, logic, and observation skills. The added benefit of knowing where their son is, whom he’s with, and how much money he’ll risk is another plus for them.

The article then fairly looks at the darker side of poker, when the gambling overtakes the card playing. A Lehigh University student was recently convicted of theft after building up enormous debts playing online poker. Comments from the National Council of Problem Gaming and Jeffrey Deverensky, the co-director of the McGill University Youth Gambling Research Clinic were included.

October 3: High Stakes Poker announces taping

The third season of High Stakes Poker on the Game Show Network, will be taped October 11th and 12th at the South Coast Casino in Las Vegas. Tapings will not be open to the public, but the show should be ready to air late in 2006 or early in 2007.

October 4: Bankers respond to new legislation

Laura Fisher, of the American Bankers Association, when asked about the legislation recently passed by the US Congress, replied "this bill does not add any burdensome responsibilities to banks. Fortunately, we were able to work with the sponsors [of the bill] to minimize the downside."

"When I spoke to the credit card companies that we represent, they find the new requirements to be workable, and in fact consistent to what they are already doing. Some credit card companies already block payments to Internet gambling sites. So, for them, it's something that is now mandated, but something many of them have been doing already." Credit card transactions are easily blocked when merchants use a proper merchant ID to identify their business type.

The biggest area of lack of ability to enforce this legislation is checks (and their electronic counterparts, ACH debits): "When you get to checks, and ACH (automated clearing house) transactions, those are something that the industry feels would be extremely difficult, if not impossible to monitor." Adds Fisher "In terms of checks, there are 40 million checks processed per year. Monitoring those transactions would be an impossible burden for the industry to bear."

October 4: What poker sites will remain available to US players?

Although it is impossible to predict at this point what the fallout will be from various poker sites due to the pending ratification of the UIGE Act, here is an indication of which sites will and will not remain accessible to American players now or in the future, based on official statements made by the companies.

Sites likely to disallow US Customers:
- PartyGaming (Party Poker, Empire Poker)
- Pacific Poker (888.com)
- Cryptologic Network (Will Hill, Interpoker, et cetera)
- Boss Network (formerly B2B network)
- Sun Poker
- Bet Fred
- pkr.com
- Titan Poker (no indication about the other iPoker sites)

Sites expected to continue to allow US Customers:
- True Poker
- Paradise Poker (may be contradicted by a statement from owner SportingBet)
- Planet Poker
- Bugsy’s Club
- Full Contact Poker (although other Ongame sites have not committed)
- Absolute Poker
- Full Tilt Poker
- Poker.com
- UltimateBet
- WSEX (World Sports Exchange)
- Bodog

The following sites have stated only that they are reviewing the situation:
- Poker Stars
- Sportingbet (owners of Paradise Poker)
- PokerRoom
- Hollywood Poker
- Mansion
Continue to look to Blind Bet Poker for current news about your ability to participate in games at the various sites. Generally it is believed that privately-owned sites are unlikely to disallow US customers, since ownership and management can be kept private, not subjecting US citizens to arrest. Another factor is country of license and/or origin. This would suggest that Paradise Poker, although based in Costa Rica and licensed by Kahnawake, would pull out of the US market due to its ownership by Sportingbet, a UK plc.

UK companies and public companies are more likely to comply with US laws, since they have a stake in potential future legalization, where “rogue” operators like Full Tilt, Poker Stars, UltimateBet, and Absolute would be unlikely to gain entry into the US market in a regulated environment. Although these four sites are among the most respected and trusted by experienced poker players, their non-traditional setup makes them more likely to have difficulty entering the US market officially if regulation is ever established. That being the case, such operators may be best served by taking advantage of other sites’ US exodus and making money from these players while they can.


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