Yesterday’s public announcement that Rational Enterprises’ intends to purchase The Atlantic Club in New Jersey stands as the online poker giant’s equivalent of launching a D-Day invasion at Normandie.
It’s a complete game changer.
The objective — first land in Atlantic City, then take over an entire continent.
Think I’m overstating things a bit? Consider this. A lot of competitors have gone broke underestimating what’s become the unrivaled global mammoth in online poker.
Indeed, although it doesn’t look like much from the outside, The Atlantic Club represents a beachhead that is not only symbolic but practical. It’s a precursor for much bigger things to come. For the soon-to-be new owners, it’s a bold legal move and a brilliant public relations strategy. For a relatively small investment reported to be around $50 million, in due time Rational Enterprises could conceivably re-emerge as the heavy favorite to regain its lofty status as the online poker market leader within the United States — potentially worth billions.
The short-lived Players Television Network debuted at the 2005 World Series of Poker.
I was asked to moderate two panel discussions, which were later broadcast via “On Demand.” The first show was on the late great poker legend Stu Ungar. SEE STU UNGAR FEATURE HERE The second show (featured here) was a panel discussion about the business of online poker.
I wasn’t at all prepared to assume the role of moderator. I recall leaving the rigors of my job at the WSOP for an hour our so, getting abruptly fitted with a microphone, and then walking out and taking a seat in front of a live studio audience and rolling television cameras with no script.
The good thing about the unrehearsed format is that everything was spontaneous. The bad thing is the show could have been much crisper had I been prepared. Looking back now, I certainly would have asked more penetrating questions than what appear here.
Fortunately, the three guests who appeared on the online poker segment were outstanding. Tony Cabot (one one of the world’s top legal experts on online gambling), Mike Sexton (then a consultant to PartyPoker), and Dan Goldman (then a consultant to PokerStars) were all in top form.
Even though this discussion might seem dated now seven years later, it holds up remakrably well over time. Many of the things discussed that day have happened, just as predicted.
Here’s that panel discussion from 2005 that runs about 40 minutes in length.
Today’s settlement agreement between PokerStars and the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ), which includes an announcement that PokerStars will acquire the entirety of Full Tilt Poker’s global assets, is an encouraging development for all poker players, and particularly positive news for those owed monies via their immobilized account deposits.
In fact, today’s news is the first break in the black cloud that has hung over the poker industry for 15 months. Given PokerStars’ longstanding reputation for integrity and the commendable manner in which they handled their own player-deposit crisis during 2011, all poker players should be grateful to the ownership and management team of this company for assuming a leadership role in what have been troubled times for the poker industry.
However, today’s announcement does nothing, nor should in any way, abdicate any of the principals associated with Full Tilt Poker for their irresponsible actions, criminal or not. Neither does the announcement serve in any way to remedy the gross negligence that led up to the crisis, nor amend the utter indifference of Full Tilt Poker and its principals to the suffering of innumerable poker players who endured severe financial and emotional hardships since the events of April 2011.
Full Tilt Poker’s actions during both the pre- and post-Black Friday period, represented an unprecedented level of irresponsibility and a grotesque violation of trust. The damage these industry outcasts have done to players, public confidence, and the game overall lingers and will not be forgotten nor forgiven until the principals have provided explanation, apology, and restitution.
Conversely, the actions of PokerStars during this crisis have continued to win favor from the poker community at large. I am optimistic that all poker players – residing both inside and outside the United States — who are deemed “victims” in the precise language contained in the official press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York on this date will be reimbursed IN FULL (emphasis mine). Moreover, the USDOJ should do everything in its considerable powers to ensure that all monies are returned as quickly as possible to all victims.
Las Vegas, Nevada
July 31, 2012
Writer’s Note: The opinions expressed here are my own and do not in any way reflect the position of any company, publication, website, or entity with which I have been associated.