As 2014 prepares to make its exit in a few days and 2015 will arrive, it’s time to make resolutions and perhaps express desires of what we’d like to see happen in the online poker industry in the year ahead. Since I am but one lone player and can only improve traffic by increasing my playing time and/or the number of tables on which I play, I have put aside resolutions of my own and instead propose some ideas for others to consider — those who have more influence on the online poker industry than I.
Here then, in no particular order, are 8 wishes for online poker in 2015.
#1 – DDoS attacks come to an end – The recent Distributed Denial of Service attack that caused cancellation of the Winning Millions $1 million guaranteed tournament on the Winning Poker Network, as well as other sporadic DDoS attacks that hit a number of other sites, are extremely harmful to online poker. Such incidents can cause players to turn away from the game.
In this era of the Internet, where identity theft and stealing passwords has become a lucrative illicit industry, it is not surprising that poker sites are also targeted. Hopefully, safeguards can eventually be put in place to thwart the computer miscreants who seem intent on creating chaos while players wish to simply compete in a game of online poker.
#2 – California passes online poker legislation – iPoker proposals have been introduced for half a decade in the Golden State without so much as a vote on a bill coming into play. While the drama continues and certainly keeps us poker writers employed, the issue really has gotten old.
The approval of online poker regulations in the nation’s largest state would do wonders for the industry, both in prompting other states to follow suit and putting the kibosh on the efforts of Sheldon Adelson to wipe out regulated online poker and gambling. This wish for 2015 has perhaps a fair chance of passing, according to some, despite the first 2015 proposal introduced by Assemblyman Mike Gatto that brought out the critics en masse.
#3 – Sheldon Adelson continues losing momentum – The billionaire casino mogul who has waged war on online poker and gambling legislation through his Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG) lost considerable momentum in his efforts recently when the Restoration of America’s Wire Act failed to make it on the agenda of Congress’ lame duck session.
The CSIG has been at it for one year and has certainly had an impact on the industry, putting up quite a fight against pro-online gaming organizations such as the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) and the Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection. But a major victory was won by the pro side this month, deflating some of the air in Adelson’s sails.
Although many hope that the 81-year-old will come to his senses and abandon his pursuit, Adelson stated that he is in it for the long haul. To see his momentum and influence continue to deteriorate in 2015 seems a more reasonable wish than to outright hope that he simply goes away. The man has a right to his opinion, however wrong and hypocritical it may be.
#4 – PokerStars gets approved in New Jersey – This wish was supposed to happen in 2014 after Amaya took the reins of PokerStars. But it did not and now is a key for the industry’s success in 2015. Rumors circulated that Adelson’s efforts played a part in PokerStars remaining on the sidelines until now.
Whatever the reasons behind the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement’s lack of a decision thus far, that approved stamp for PokerStars would be a boost to online poker in 2015 and beyond. The top site in the world, no matter how they got there, would bring legitimacy to a market that could use a shot in the arm at this point in time.
#5 – Interstate launch of Nevada and Delaware – This wish, too, was previously seen as a shoo-in for 2014, but has seemingly jumped on the same iceberg that is carrying state-by-state regulated online poker expansion. The Multi State Internet Gaming Agreement was brokered between the two states in February, yet remains tucked away in a file drawer of Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval.
While both states are small in terms of population, and player numbers certainly won’t jump through the roof once this historic launch is put into play, the fact that states will combine players pools is a big deal that may work wonders in prompting other state legislatures into action. Of all the wishes on my list, dare I say that this one is the most likely to come true?
#6 – Lock Poker players get paid – OK, I admit I’m stretching a bit here. Lock Poker has shown no inclination toward righting course and paying its players who have been waiting eons for their cashout requests to be honored.
Sites like Lock Poker give online poker a bad name and probably keep a number of players from making the jump from social to real-money play. The chance of this wish coming true? About as likely as Nicole Scherzinger ringing my doorbell and asking if I need some company for New Years Eve.
#7 – Absolute Poker and UltimateBet players not forgotten – It’s very probable that former U.S. Full Tilt players will finally all be made whole in 2015 and the remission process completed. Yet still unpaid are the AP and UB players who lost millions of dollars when the DoJ swooped down in 2011 and took aim at offshore poker sites.
No white knight came to the rescue, as was done by the Rational Group in their 2012 purchase of Full Tilt. The PPA previously discussed the matter of reimbursement for AP/UB players with the DoJ in 2013. “UB/AP victims were defrauded and deserve compensation,” the PPA’s Rich Muny stated back then.
Hopefully, once Full Tilt players have been paid, another look will be taken at the victims who patronized sites on the Cereus Network. The wish of reimbursement in 2015 is indeed a long shot, so I merely desire that AP and UB players are “not forgotten.” This may likely continue to be a wish in 2016, 2017 and so on. Reimbursement of some sort could go a long way in restoring faith in a number of players who have disappeared from online poker.
#8 – Recreational players flock to real-money online poker sites – If the previous 7 desires of mine were to be realized, then this one would likely be a natural result. The push is on to make the game more palatable to the casual crowd, yet there certainly is room for more ideas to be employed.
Targeting more women and social gamers in marketing efforts, doing away with poker-tracking software, and finding other ways to attract recreational players is needed in order for online poker to grow and prosper. Let’s face it, the poker boom of 2003 is over and the few years leading up to the passage of the UIGEA in 2006 will always be seen as the glory days. But the industry can survive and thrive as long as appropriate changes are made as time goes on.
I’m sure I missed some wishes that could also greatly help the online poker industry, such as regulation spreading to more states like Pennsylvania, New York or Illinois. Or the ultimate wish, that federal lawmakers approve a regulated online poker plan for all states that merely requires an opt in or out in order to participate.
But I did not want to wish for too much, so I tempered my 2015 desires for online poker. I’m saving some wishes for next year.