Faster withdrawal times, improved oversight and transparency, and the knowledge that your money is safe and secure are just a few of improvements regulated online poker will offer US players.
In this column I’ll make the case why US players should start jumping on the regulated online poker bandwagon and swearing off unregulated online poker rooms. If you’re on the fence or having a hard time quitting your current unregulated online poker room then I suggest you keep reading.
Reason #1 — Oversight
With the onset of legalized, regulated online poker, US online poker players have their state regulatory bodies to lean on and hold accountable, who in turn have to answer to elected officials in the state.
These added layers of oversight are the reason live casinos are so trusted when it comes to the safety of your money and the fairness of the games being offered in the United States, and now these same protections will extend to online casinos and poker rooms.
If you play at a licensed, regulated online poker site, never again will you have to worry whether or not the people protecting your money is little more than a “fly-by-night” offshore regulatory body that has setup shop in some far-flung locale: Regulatory bodies that rely on the same companies they are overseeing for their very existence –with some, like Kahnawake’s Joe Norton, possessing ownership interests in the very poker rooms they are suppose to regulate!
Reason #2 — Transparency
In addition to having more reputable and legitimate oversight, regulated online poker rooms are far more transparent, allowing patrons to see everything from their licensing details to the company’s management structure, to the breakdown of their rake structure –which is now required by law.
Now that online poker rooms are subjected to legitimate licensing requirements that require transparency, the potential for a shady individual to hide within a company’s infrastructure (or hide their involvement through a shell company) is a thing of the past.
There will be no more “October Surprises” for online poker players.
This transparency also prevents companies from using player funds to pay for other operational expenses, as safeguards are now in place that require frequent audits and stipulate the manner in which a company holds player funds.
Reason #3 — Improved Payment Processing
One of the most immediate and noticeable improvements that will come about from a regulated online poker market will be the speed with which withdrawals are processed, and the safety of the funds you have in your online account.
Online poker players in the US will no longer have to wait weeks to months for a check to arrive, and will no longer have to fret that the check might be printed on rubber paper. From now on, when you deposit at an online poker room, your money will not immediately lose value (players at some current unregulated sites sell their account balances for mere pennies on the dollar) and it will no longer be tied-up for months on end.
In addition to the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have access to your money, players will also have far more deposit and withdrawal options to choose from, with payment processors and credit cards no longer restricted from handling online poker transactions –provided they are themselves licensed.
Reason #4 — Look at the track record
If I still haven’t convinced you why you should choose regulated online poker sites over unregulated online poker rooms, look no further than the track-record of unregulated Internet poker sites over the years:
- PokerSpot – PokerSpot was the first online poker site to leave the poker community high and dry in 2002, when the Dutch Boyd led poker room went belly up owing some $400,000 to their players – money that still has not been paid back to this day.
- Ultimate Bet – Over the course of several years, Ultimate Bet insiders stole tens-of-millions of dollars from players through a cheating program, and when the DOJ indicted the owners of the site on April 15, 2011, UB continued to accept deposits and later went belly-up owing the community somewhere in the realm of seven figures.
- Absolute Poker – Like their sister site Ultimate Bet (the two companies merged in 2010), AP was another site involved in an insider cheating scandal, and left players out in the cold, owing millions, when they were finally shut-down.
- Full Tilt Poker – US Full Tilt Poker players are still waiting for about $150 million of their money; money they have not had access to since April 15, 2011.
- Lock Poker – How bad is the situation at Lock Poker? Lock Poker’s withdrawal times are so slow, and the company’s ability to pay is in such question that $100 of Lock Poker money is worth somewhere between $10 and $25 on the open market.
And this doesn’t even cover the countless examples of online poker rooms seizing legitimate accounts, slowpaying their players, or turning a blind eye to cheating.
It’s time to toss away the security blanket and demand what’s better
Change is hard, and it can be unpleasant at first, but sometimes it’s absolutely necessary, and when it comes to online poker in the US, changing from an unregulated to a regulated market is absolutely necessary.
Fortunately, that change is starting to occur across the United States, with licensed Nevada online poker rooms up and running, and Delaware and New Jersey on the precipice of joining the list of states with regulated online poker.
But even in locales that have licensed online poker rooms, many online poker players are still playing at, or considering playing at, unregulated online poker sites. As I outlined above this is a major mistake.
It might be the appeal of larger player pools, or the bonuses and promotions being offered that lure you in, but just remember: There is a reason the site is offering you a deal that seems too good to be true, and more importantly, there is a reason the site has not applied for a license or has been turned down.
Sure, some unregulated online poker sites have done right by you over the years, and some unregulated online poker rooms have very good track records and decent reputations. But keep two things in mind:
1. These sites are already breaking at least one law by operating in the US, so what other laws are they willing to break?
2. Unlicensed sites are graded on a very steep curve, and if the curve includes sites like Ultimate Bet, Lock Poker, and PokerSpot, it’s not hard to come out looking like a well-oiled machine.
These unlicensed sites are hoping you turn a blind eye to their failings, and choose familiarity and the status quo over progress.
The valedictorian of summer school
Even if an unregulated site has a solid reputation even these supposed well-oiled machines have their problems. In the current unregulated market they don’t even appear to be problems, but in a regulated market, lengthy withdrawal times, unnecessary fees, and lackluster security against collusion and poker bots would never be tolerated. They are for lack of a better term, the valedictorian of summer school.
Since their offshore licensing bodies don’t demand tight security measures and don’t have the capability of diligent oversight, these problems are currently just accepted as part of the process by online poker players; in a regulated market they are being stamped out.
In poker forum parlance: Regulated Poker > Unregulated Poker.