The British are coming, the British are coming!!
Mickey Charles, CEO of The Sportsnetwork, Pennsylvania
Whoops! It is not the “one if by land, two if by sea” signal from the Old North Church (officially, Christ Church in the City of Boston), the location from which the famous historic alarm is said to have been sent. This phrase is related, of course, to Paul Revere’s midnight ride, of April 18, 1775, which preceded the Battles of Lexington and Concord during the American Revolution. Now, some 235 years later, a similar signal has been sent to the Department of Justice to herald the arrival of such interlopers as William Hill, one of the more well known bookmakers in the world, headquartered out of England (where this activity of gambling is legal).
But, the target has changed. It is now the American gaming market, its audience and, in particular, purveyors of wagering in every form, highlighted by sportbooks that dot the landscape of Nevada, legally. There is a sense among them that prior laws preventing this will be repealed sooner than later and the adage about position in life being critical to one’ being and success at opportune moments never had more credibility. Consequently, there would soon be a war, dollars and audience driven, between two seeming political parties…the incumbents that did not trade in the stars and stripes for the Union Jack and those invaders that would seek to invade and dislodge the colonists while being so brash as to partner with some of them.
They are coming for the money!
That meant it was time to launch a shot across their bow with an accompanying message that clearly stated, “Do not come to our shores, do not invade that which is ours and suffer what happens to those that do.” What, pray tell, that which we have seen so far?
Call in the Department of Justice and the FBI. Arm them with fairly diaphanous weaponry and, like an auto accident, plan on suing, challenging, arresting everyone in sight, right or wrong. In this instance, mostly wrong. And, by the way, FBI means we can seize bank accounts, domain names and whatever the heck we want to. So, just recently, on April 15th, the DoJ seized the .com names of five of the biggest poker sites out there, the same folks that have been blissfully ignored for so long.
But this was not a car accident and shooting…cameras, guns, legal technicalities, frozen bank accounts, seized domain names, etc. …everything and everyone within reach made absolutely no sense. Like Prohibition in the United States (also sometimes referred to as the Noble Experiment), a national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, in place from 1920 to 1933, interfering with that which the public wants to do, will always do, and can skirt bans in more ways than bootleggers from Canada provided back then, gambling…poker or otherwise, will not go away, with or without the British.
The answer is unbelievably simple…embrace and advantage it. Let them come, let them play, collect the taxes from the licensed and favored. It will add up faster than the government can imagine.
The customers will get their money back from the “frozen assets,” and they will find ways, as has already been the case, to continue to play on sites located everywhere and anywhere. Isn’t the Internet wonderful…he says with a wry smile? The states will eventually legalize intra-state poker, Internet gambling will, as William Hill and others like them believe to be the case, be regulated and taxed and Nevada is the prime location where one should set up shop. Once in place, patience becomes the virtue of the hour and beyond. All the others that are not entertaining partnerships with folks like William Hill are steeling themselves for battle, alongside (believe it or not) the DoJ for all the obvious reasons.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend, a quote long attributed to the Arabs, makes perfect sense here…for all those that are not going to the docks and airports to welcome the British back. Caesars and Steve Wynn are no longer certain of their partnerships with 888 and PokerStars. And, the UIGEA is still doing more than hovering; it has a full cache of bombs ready to be dropped.
This has become a maze of intrigues, political posturing…as in Atlantic City…and governmental reactions to backroom deal-making and protectionism. It took about 13 years for Prohibition to be repealed compared to the world we inhabit today, where your watch has more computer capability than they ever dreamed of back in the day; where a computer chip has more content than the whole of the NY Times during that era; where we communicate and act on something, anything at all, in the blink of an eye and then, like David Copperfield, poof! … we are gone. That is your bookmaker, casino, sportsbook, punter, player and even the government. Big Brother is no longer just watching, he is there with your every move…and should be your partner if you are William Hill.
That scenario is inevitable. It is just a matter of determining when. Meanwhile, all in!