One more post about Neteller / the future of online poker and then I think it'll be time to let the subject go. This time around, I want to take on a question that seems to be popping up on the forums and which I expect that casual players are asking a lot:
As a U.S. player, should I be afraid of losing my money that's online?
Now, since I don't play (ahem) for money and am no expert on the workings of the global financial system, don't confuse me with someone who actually knows the facts. This is strictly opinion.
Short answer: No. I don't think so.
Longer answer: Two of the biggest sites out there that still accept U.S. players are PokerStars and Full Tilt. I have a great deal of confidence in the people that run those sites. I also think that internet poker is a sufficiently profitable business - even without Americans -- that both sites will wish to remain in business. If they stiff U.S. customers, why would any non-U.S. player play there?
Is it possible that they could shut the doors and everyone loses? Sure. That's true of any business. I freely admit to having no idea what the sites have in the way of fixed expenses, but when your business is largely virtual, it would seem to me to be more scalable than, say, Ford Motor. A lot of people may lose their jobs and a lot of really swell perks and promos may go away, but I'd speculate that the majors could 'downsize' themselves enough to stay in business. Profitably.
Part 2 of my answer: The thing that's going to be the hardest for poker sites to deal with is (duh) cashing in and out. I think that people who say 'we can always use good old paper checks and money orders' are a bit delusional. If the U.S. government puts enough pressure on, those checks won't be honored. But:
Even if the sites are unable to use the EFT system, and are shut out of the banking system (either by banks refusing to do business with them or their intermediaries, or by the system refusing to honor their checks), I still don't think you'll be screwed. The cashout system may need to get creative -- using nominees, a variety of shell corporation, or just plain individuals to get the money through the system. I think you *will* get your money back, it just won't be fast and free.
So no, I wouldn't be worried.
The issue of whether sites will continue to allow American players is another one all together. I tend to think not, just because of the level of difficulty they're going to face with cash in/out issues.
I admit that I'd kind of like to be a fly on the wall at the brainstorming sessions the management of the sites must be having (with and without their lawyers). "What if we do this, what if we do that".
I wonder if you were a poker site if you could get around the UIGEA by offering NO cash in or cash out services to American players without explicitly barring them. I suspect that even facilitating player-to-player transfers, if the receiving player is American and uses the money to "gamble" is a violation of federal law, meaning that this wouldn't work, but I haven't taken the time to research it. On a practical level, this would be awkward but it could work -- people would slowly form networks of trustworthy individuals including non-USians who'd cash in and out. It would certainly have its drawbacks, but with the ubiquity of the web I do think it'd work. It'd be a nightmare on the fraud detection front too, I suppose. Just a thought.
Anyway, enough of the steaming-pile-of-consciousness.
I really missed the boat on New Year's Resolutions. I definitely should have resolved to never play Razz again.
Despite enjoying the company of instigator Change100, Zeem, Drizz and Poker Peaker, and further despite being the chip leader or at least in the top 5 for the first two plus hours, I can't remember when I've been more pissed off to be playing. It's just something about razz.