Online poker opponents are quick to point out all of the problems that the industry may bring if legalized. The main flaw in this argument is that the industry will exist, regardless of whether it is regulated or not. The current environment allows sites that do not pay players to exist. Players need protection from these sites.
One of the biggest problems facing the online poker industry over the years has been a lack of accountability. Site operators could squander funds or simply disappear with any fear of repercussions.
Lock Poker is the current example of a site that is the focus of angry online poker players. The U.S.-facing online poker room owes over $930,000 to players that have been waiting at least 60 days, according to a player reports compiled by Two Plus Two user IHasTehNutz.
It is not just the amount of cash reported to be owed to players that is a cause for concern. There have been few reported payments in the past few months. In February, the Lock Poker cashout report posted just two withdrawals paid.
Lock Poker is currently offering a $1,000 reload bonus that players may take advantage of six times. This is occurring while players are trying to unload Lock Poker chips for $.06 on the dollar.
Black Friday exposed a lack of liquidity at two major U.S. online poker sites. Players at Full Tilt Poker eventually bailed out by PokerStars. Those payments started to arrive to former U.S. players last month. Cereus customers across the world are still owed an estimated $45 million. There is little hope those players will ever get paid.
Too Many to Name
These are just three examples of failed poker sites. There have been dozens of online poker rooms and networks that closed without notice that stiffed players. Most failed to segregate player funds and may not have been obligated to do so through licensing. The lack of transparency of these offshore sites left victims with no recourse.
Why Offshore Failures Are Important to Movement
It may seem counterproductive to bring up the fact that there have been so many scam sites over the years, however, this is exactly why regulation is so important. Consumer protection is one of the many reasons proponents use to promote regulation. Examples are needed to show just how bad the situation is.
This can also serve as a warning to the politicians that think outlawing regulated sites is the answer. The Internet cannot be legislated away. Offshore sites will fill the demand if state-licensed ones are not allowed to exist.
This column was inspired by a discussion with Lock Poker player advocate IHasTehNuts and this tweet.