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wsop-2016-online-regLast week, I wrote an op-ed regarding the World Series of Poker announcement that credit cards can be used for this year’s summer event buy-ins. Players can buy in to tournaments with $1,500 buy-ins or less online through a new partnership with Bravo Poker Live.

The piece was meant as a conversation starter, as I had seen little in the way of pros and cons on social media regarding the introduction of credit cards to the buy-in mix. I pointed to the slippery slope that could occur due to the ease with which more players can buy in and face consequences later, as well as the ammunition this may give to groups opposed to poker and gambling.

The comments that ensued were nearly all in support of the credit card option.

WSOP Clarifies Debit-Credit Point

One of the things that came from the Twitter conversation was a clarification of credit cards and debit cards, thanks to Kevin Mathers, of course. There was some concern that debit cards were not allowed for Bravo registrations, but they are allowed if those debit cards include the MasterCard, Visa, Discover, or Diner’s Club logo. The debit purchases will be treated as credit purchases, though the operation is virtually the same as a debit.

Mathers also pointed out that some live tournaments use a website called PokerTickets-dot-com, which was news to me. It works almost the same as a concert ticket distributor, and players can reserve seats in tournaments with debit or credit cards. Currently, this service is only available at a dozen casinos around the United States and Canada, including Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun, Turning Stone, and Trump Taj Mahal.

Michael Josem, PR guru for PokerStars and Full Tilt, also noted that the United States lags far behind in payment processing for gambling transactions in general. We know that, but we don’t like to admit it!

Classifying Buy-ins as Retail Purchases Approved

Another worry I initially expressed was the classification of the WSOP buy-ins as retail purchases for Caesars. Memories of Full Tilt and PokerStars before Black Friday took over, as the misrepresentation of online poker transactions as retail purchases was part of what flagged the US Department of Justice in the first place.

However, it makes sense that Caesars’ honesty about the purchases, no matter the classification on paper, is what matters. And since this decision was cleared by the Nevada Gaming Commission, there should be no problems.

Players Give Thumbs Up

The vast majority of comments regarding credit card usage for buy-ins were positive. Not only did players appreciate the convenience of buying in early and not having to carry as much cash around Las Vegas, they also brought up other good points.

Keeping records for tax purposes and personal financial management will be easier due to the online receipts and credit card records. In addition, many people will also get credit card points for the purchases, which sometimes translate to cash or discounts or airline miles.

And for players coming to Vegas for the WSOP, the online purchase of buy-ins makes everything much simpler, as it eliminates the need to wire money or carry dangerous amounts of cash through airports and allows more time for things other than standing in line at the Rio upon arrival.

Remaining Concerns

One concern that came up in several conversations was the chance of becoming a victim of fraud. However, that came with the acknowledgement that credit card fraud is a danger in every situation, whether using an ATM or swiping the card at a casino restaurant.

This comment was posted by Jerry Rau of Las Vegas, an iGaming payment and fraud consultant:

“I was surprised transactions are not being coded as pseudo cash advances. I’m sure WSOP is not hiding anything unlike others in the past. You can use credit cards on WSOP-dot-com so why not WSOP.

The hidden issue here is that credit card issuers only allow a subset of available credit for cash advances. It varies significantly due to card usage and card type but it is always less than the overall credit limit. By classifying transactions as retail purchase it opens up a significant amount of credit available for use. A player with 10k of credit may only have 2k available if they go to the cashier to get an advance. With this classification all 10k is available for use at WSOP. This will be dangerous for players who cannot control themselves. There is no way to tell how significant it will be, but it will increase handle and subsequently responsible gaming. It will be interesting to watch this story evolve.”

Personal responsibility is an issue that comes up with any purchase made on credit, though his point about credit limits for advances versus purchases is a valid one. However, gambling problems are something that every casino and gambling establishment monitors, so this is likely to be no different. And sufficient space has to be given to personal responsibility in these types of situations, lest we enter “big brother” territory.

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Jennifer Newell

Jennifer has been a freelance writer in the poker industry for a decade. She left a full-time job with the World Poker Tour to tell the stories of poker. She now lives in St. Louis, writes about poker while pursuing other varied interests, and speaks her mind on Twitter… a lot.