An Outside Look at Online Poker in the USA: Guest Post by David L

It’s been so long since players from the USA actually inhabited online poker tables freely and legally it’s hard to remember what it was like.

Since the UIGEA there’s been a daily barrage of blog posts and news articles covering some kind of US government interruption in the world of online gambling. But rarely has there been perspectives from outside the USA on what it’s been like to whiteness all this happening.

Black Friday

I woke up on April 15th 2011 and Skype went crazy with various links to DOJ takedown notices and articles already written about the craziness that had occurred while I was still sleeping. My first reaction was one of injustice. I live in the UK, not the USA, and my government says I can gamble freely online whenever and pretty much wherever I want to.

poker across the pondOver the coming days it was quickly clear that whilst those across the water were likely screwed those outside the USA would still continue, more or less, as they’d left off. Just with a significantly smaller number of fish in the pond.

Looking back on the reaction to this in a thread I contributed to on a popular UK poker forum opinions varied from ‘seriously we are totally screwed now’ to ‘meh shouldn’t be too bad’ and subsequently the later of the two came to pass.

As time moves forward people forget and adapt and that’s exactly what happened for most UK based players after Black Friday.

Grinders carried on grinding, scared recreational players eventually returned to the tables and even when France pulled the plug we could still play on so it wasn’t all doom and gloom.

Rightly or wrongly we eventually forgot, adapted and most thought and still think ‘well it’d be great if the US comes back, we might even experience another mini boom, but it certainly won’t be online poker as we once knew it’.

That is very much still my main train of thought. Who knows what restrictions will be placed on players in the USA if they do return to the world of online gambling legally. I’m pretty sure it won’t be that beneficial for us and maybe not even for them.

I can’t talk for everyone but those who I’ve spoke to and still speak to would happily describe the US government as crazy and unpredictable – nothing that happens in the US really surprises us anymore.

The Full Tilt Fiasco

Regardless of where you live in the world, as online gamblers we’re pretty used to getting screwed over by someone. I personally suffered at the hands of Microgaming and when Full Tilt went under my initial reaction was shame err… stuff different day.

To be honest though, this was more of a surprise than Black Friday itself. Most poker players in the UK, myself included, considered Full Tilt as untouchable. Looking back I’m not sure why but I guess that’s how people feel about big global brands.

Losing money sucks, regardless of how it happens, but it hurts that little bit more when it feels like a complete injustice. The US government had screwed us over previously on Black Friday but financially most didn’t lose out.

Full Tilt going to the wall hit our pockets more than anything. We could still grind on Stars remember so it wasn’t total devastation.

At the time of writing this post the 6th of November is thought to be the re-launch date for Full Tilt Poker and we’re expecting our money back. My perspective on this… a miracle.

Going Forward

I’m expecting some kind of reintegration of US players into the world of online gambling; at some point, at some time, in some shape or fashion.

Honestly given what we’ve seen from the US previously it’s tough to speculate on how or when this will happen. I do know one thing though. Whatever happens won’t come as a surprise. We now expect the unexpected.


David L is the owner and main editor of Cheeky Punter, a website about online gambling which focuses on UK sports betting. David is also an ex professional online gambler player and if you hadn’t already guessed lives in the UK, the North East of England more specifically.

If you want to see where he loses most of his money every week then check out the betting tips section of the Cheeky Punter website.

3 thoughts on “An Outside Look at Online Poker in the USA: Guest Post by David L”

  1. I am a huge fan of online poker and i do agree with you issuses you raised through your post..and i hope we find a solution for them soon.

  2. @Alan: I agree on a lot of points but I guess on a scale, I’m a few notches towards optimistic than you are. I still see the same issues. I just think we’ll find a solution for them, even if it does take a little longer than most people anticipate.

  3. This is a bummer, so I apologize in advance.

    I fear David L. may be right concerning restrictions that will be placed on players if (or make that when) internet poker is legalized in the United States. For that matter, I have serious doubts if internet poker will ever be legalized in the United States. Unlike the UK and other enlightened European nations, with the notable exception of a handful of states, (i.e. Nevada, California, Florida, New Jersey, Mississippi and one or two others), most of the states do not allow licensed casinos. (I’m excluding Indian casinos since Indian owned properties are treated as legal establishments within sovereign nations.) That’s less than fifteen percent of the states that allow “legal” casino gambling – including poker. There are powerful (and very vocal) constituencies who are dead set against further expansion of any form of legal gambling – including internet poker. I’m referring specifically to church-based and religious organizations such as Focus on the Family. These folks vote and they make sure their voices are heard by politicians. They number in the tens of millions. These folks go to church every Sunday where they (occasionally) hear their pastor or their priest rail against the “evils” of gambling. (I was raised in a Baptist orphanage where we were forbidden to touch playing cards. Playing cards were excoriated as “tools of the devil.”) There may be tens of millions of people here in the United States who profess to be poker players and occasionally indulge in the pastime, but we’re not organized the way our religious opponents are organized. They have the numbers and they’re passionate. To put it bluntly: We don’t have the numbers and we’re not as passionate as our opponents. Until we get those numbers, and the passion that goes with them, politicians are not going to fear us. They will respond to the religious folks more than they will respond to us. That’s just the cold hard reality. That is what is holding up legalization here in the United States.

    When the financial crisis of 2008-2010 hit and tax receipts collapsed, several noted scholars and gambling experts, (most notably Professor I. Nelson Rose), predicted that states were so desperate for new tax revenues that they would rush to legalize, regulate (and tax) internet poker. It hasn’t happened. With “Black Friday” the situation has only grown worse. Internet poker may (eventually) get legalized here in the United States, but it won’t happen overnight. (My “guesstimate” is another ten years – if even then.) The forces lined up against us are strong. It would be nice if I’m proven wrong, but I don’t have a good feeling.

    Our ancestors left the UK over 200 years ago to escape religious persecution. We still live with the consequences of that persecution to this day. That’s right, we don’t have internet poker here in the United States because of you Brits! (Yes, I’m being deliberately facetious.)

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