Online ban’s on target

Nov 7, 2006 2:07 AM

I’ve been saying it for years — online gambling is simply NOT the way to go. Continuously making a profit playing games run by overseas operators that are held accountable to no one is for fools only.

Whenever I’ve written about this topic I regularly received e-mails from people who admitted being so hooked on playing from home they could not stop, and from those who hated me for reminding them of what a huge mistake they were making. Before it was debatable if gambling over the Internet was illegal or not. Now it’s more clear.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Act of 2006 makes transferring money in any manner to or from these sites by people within the U.S. unlawful.

Already, some sites are scrambling to take down ads touting overseas gambling. Many site operators have used these ads for years as a means of drawing income.

On various Internet gaming forums, outcry is the word. Those directly involved in playing slots and video poker online naturally have to figure out a way to stop, while pulling their hair out over this. My question is, why?

Several years ago I wrote about how I once tried playing video poker online when I was out of the country. I happen to choose Intercasino at the time because it was advertised as one of the largest. I was really attempting to see if I could easily spot software or any other bias — which I did not, in just a few days of play. But I was surprised by hitting a 5-figure winner, and that’s where all the trouble began.

When I returned home I tried for a withdrawal. I had deposited $500 (and received a $100 bonus) rather easily via my credit card, but when I tried to withdraw my nearly $11,000 the online casino didn’t want to make that particular transaction so quickly. They kept asking for faxed copies of my driver’s license, copies of the credit card (of which they would only make a $500 payment towards), and used the weeks after all that to further stall.

Whenever I called I was told the "Director" had moved his office, or that the "Comptroller" had recently quit — and signatures from these people were required in order to send out the check. Over a month later after making multiple calls every single day, I received my check. Then came the worry whether it was rubber or not. It wasn’t.

I’m sure I’m not the first person to go up against unscrupulous operators such as this, and I know, from the many subsequent e-mails, I wasn’t the last. There have been so many horror stories told to me by online video poker players over the years that after a while all I could say to them was "you asked for it."

The main point is, I cannot figure out how otherwise sane, intelligent individuals could possibly send their money to some overseas operator who has no accountability whatsoever. And as a player, you have absolutely no recourse if they decide to stiff you.

Yes, there have been some who tell me they’ve found the almighty "positive" video poker games such as Full Pay Deuces wild and 10/7 Double Bonus Poker, and coupled with "special" deposit bonuses pushes theoretical EV percentages can by as much as 3%. But whenever I’ve asked them what the subtraction was for the very high risk of both their money being overseas as well as unregulated games, never a word was spoken.

In essence, common sense has nothing to do with their decision. What they were dealing with was an addiction to online gambling — something our lawmakers certainly had in mind when they put forth the new bill.

At the end of the day people will eventually come to terms with what has happened and why. Yes, there will still be those who choose to try and go around the system somehow just so they can keep on playing.

In the past, there was just some obscure Wire Act. Now, regardless of how slick you believe you are, it’s part of our law. Besides, wouldn’t you really rather be in Las Vegas?