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As the 2016 World Series of Poker nears, players are anxious to pre-register for many of the tournaments. Using the online registration portal – or paying at the cashier cage at the Rio, for those already in Las Vegas – is a way to avoid long lines, save time and paperwork, and ensure a seat in some of the most anticipated poker events of the summer.

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This year, however, the WSOP is offering a new payment option for players. Those registering online can now use a credit card, and that may be a slippery slope for poker players and the industry as a whole, not to mention fodder for critics of the game. Is it worth the potential trouble?

WSOP Online Registration Details

Last week, the WSOP announced that online registration was open for business. Poker players who have been planning their summer tournament schedules since the details were first announced clamored to get online and buy in to events.

The WSOP partnered with Genesis Gaming Solutions to offer the online registration through the Bravo Poker Live website, which does require a one-time free sign-up for access. And as for any WSOP tournament registration, online or in person, the Caesars Total Rewards card is required. It should be noted that the Bravo account will also be able to be used for payouts, though not much information has been released about that part of the process yet.

Players can register for events on Bravo using several methods. Wire transfers are always welcome, though the transfer process requires registration at least 14 days prior to the start date of the tournament. A cashier’s check option is available with the same 14-day time constraint. And for the first time, players can use a Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or Diners Club credit card to register for tournaments with buy-ins of $1,500 or less. This method requires only a 72-hour time frame and only on the first time the card is used. For subsequent registrations, the same credit card can be used up until the time that late registration for the tournament ends.

How Slippery is that Slope?

slippery slope ahead

Credit: Scientific American

Live poker has separated itself – for the most part – from its online counterpart by the fact that cash and chips are the currency. Of course, it’s an option to obtain a cash advance from a credit card in order to get that money, but that is often more difficult for people to do.

One of the primary points made by opponents of online poker is the ease with which players can put money in their online accounts. The use of credit cards makes it easier for players to risk money and not have to deal with the potential loss of it until later when a bill arrives.

The Nevada gaming regulators have approved the process, and Caesars will apparently be classifying the credit card buy-ins as retail purchases. That sounds eerily familiar to the processes by which Full Tilt and other online poker companies mischaracterized transactions for years to avoid the scrutiny of banks and government overseers. While it sounds legal and approved, does it not raise ethical questions? This seems to be another part of that slippery slope on which poker opponents will be able to put oil.

There are benefits for many poker players, as they are able to do their transactions online, and it is far safer to walk around without wads of cash in one’s pocket or purse. The lines for buy-ins will likely be shorter at the Rio, and players will save time by only showing up when the tournament begins instead of hours early to stand in line. And for international players, this makes the entire process infinitely easier.

With the WSOP offering the option of buying in to all of the $1K and $1,500 buy-in events at the WSOP via credit, those events will certainly see an increase in participation and possibly set some registration records. But at what cost?

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Please weigh in with comments. Am I looking for a problem where it doesn’t exist? Or is this a legitimate concern of others in the poker community?

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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.