Go back and read the poker forums sometime. The evidence is all there in black and white.
In 2006, popular sentiment at the time was the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act would never become a law. Then, after the UIGEA did indeed pass and become law, the prevailing thought within the poker community over the next five years was the federal government wouldn’t do much to shut down the most popular sites and actually prohibit Americans from logging online to play poker. Then, after Black Friday happened in 2011 an all the biggest poker sites operating within U.S. jurisdiction were shut down and hundreds of millions in player deposits were frozen, many of those same disengaged and apathetic voices are now saying the same thing.
Nothing to worry about, they insist. Nothing to see here, so move on. Just as before, the false presumption is — the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) has no shot of passage. After all, the federal bill which would outlaw online poker in all 50 states failed to muster enough support during the last session of congress. Our side won the last time around, so why won’t we repeat the same victory in 2015?
Will we ever learn?
Two recent news stories highlight a serious cause for concern for the proponents of legalized online poker in the United States.
Both developments reiterate to the alarming prospect that right now we’re not only sizable underdogs to win federal support for legalization and regulation in the foreseeable future. We even may be in serious danger of losing the significant gains made since Black Friday devastated the American poker landscape back in 2011. All indications are the Sheldon Adelson-backed federal bill known as Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) could very well pass both houses of congress during the current session, be signed by the president, and might become the law of the land by year’s end. If that were to happen, it would be tantamount to a federal prohibition against poker and most forms of gambling online. In other words, permanent Black Friday would be the law in all fifty states.
Yesterday, Sheldon Adelson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, which owns and operates The Venetian Luxury Hotel Resort Casino in Las Vegas, appeared as the keynote speaker at the 2014 Global Gaming Expo, which is the world’s largest casino industry annual convention.
To put it kindly, Mr. Adelson’s 50-minute talk received what I would classify as a lukewarm response. Unlike the Sands Expo Center’s main ballroom which was filled to full standing-room only capacity the day before, when fellow casino mogul Steve Wynn spoke to a similar gathering, the allure of Mr. Adelson’s appearance filled only about two-thirds of the seats in the room, despite ideal placement as the prime time speaker on the show’s biggest afternoon (Wednesday). Some attendees boycotting? Mass disinterest? Perhaps those who didn’t bother to show up to see the man who rules his mighty kingdom in the flesh already realized what most of the rest of us didn’t — that Mr. Adelson is a selfish, rambling bore. Despite this, one might have expected this far-more controversial public figure and political lightning rod to draw a significantly bigger crowd, but that didn’t happen (see photo evidence at conclusion of this article).
Day One at the 2014 Global Gaming Expo — otherwise known by the trifecta of letters “G2E” — included the following activities: 145 handshakes, 12 hugs, two kisses, 35 conversations, two meetings, one lunch, one dinner, 4 glasses of draft beer, 1.5 bottles of wine, 3 seminars, one question to a panel, and a brief argument with someone who works for the American Gaming Association. Plus I got to hang out with Lisa Tenner and learn about a new gambling television network. Other than that, nothing at all happened.
All this week, my mission is to see people and be seen. Not that I care much about either. We writers are oblivious to public persona. It’s trifle. Meaningless. Illusory. I’d much rather spend an hour crafting word to page than struggling to fit in at some social gathering everyone will soon forget about 15 minutes after it’s done. Cynical? Perhaps. Truthful? Absolutely. That’s what all trade shows are basically — a annualized ritual of Vanity Fair in the flesh, a giant cocktail party decorated with convention booths and girls in hot pants.
I arrived promptly at 9 am this morning at the Sands Expo Center, a progressive’s version of North Korea, otherwise known as enemy territory behind the Iron Curtain, given the evil presiding landlord who collects from his fiefdom. By 2;30 this afternoon, I found myself in the worst possible trade show dilemma since I’d burned through an entire stack of business cards. Which makes me now wonder — what exactly should I do with another 62 business cards that were handed to me today? I guess I’ll just toss them into the drawer atop the 282 cards I picked up at this year’s World Series of Poker, sitting atop the 312 from the year before, and the 309 the year before that. Surely, something will come up which renders these business cards useful. Perhaps, kindling for a fire.
By the way — if someone out there is reading this who handed me their business card today, be advised — I’m keeping yours. I’m talking about the slugs who I’ll never see again. No, not you. You’re special.
Introduction: Here’s another fun story from my days working for PokerStars.com, where I served as Director of Communications between 2004-2006.
One of the wackiest poker stories never yet told took place in early 2006, about six months after Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans and flooded most of the city.
The New Orleans Saints were quite possibly the most dismal franchise in all of professional sports. Despite their losing ways, they remained beloved fan favorites and were a unifying attraction for all of Southern Louisiana. Even though the team won just a single playoff game during its first 30 years of existence, the 80,000-seat Superdome sold out every time the Saints played at home. When the Saints went on the road, they almost always lost. However, the joke was that if they covered the pointspread, thousands fans would always welcome and cheer the arriving team plane at the airport.
With the lowly Saints coming off yet another losing season in 2005, when they were forced to play all their games outside the city of New Orleans (due to severe damage to the Superdome), unanimous pessimism persisted about the city’s ability to continue supporting an NFL franchise. It seemed, people who had suffered such severe financial and emotional devastation had priorities other than football.