From the Editor's Chair - v15

9 June 2004

They locked me in a cold cellar for weeks, allowing me to leave only after River City Group's long awaited Internet Gambling Report VII was finally complete. And what did I do in my first moments of freedom? Take a shower? Enjoy a home cooked meal? Phone my family to let them know I'm OK? None of the above. I went straight to the computer and began writing this long overdue next installment of "Editor's Chair."

Let's start with the important stuff. Sumo. Last month's Golden Palace-sponsored GIGSE Sumo fest was a huge success. River City Group raised over $30k for Gamcare, and it looked like most of the participants and spectators thought it was a hoot. (Click here for the full story and a glimpse at the sumo gallery.) All silliness aside, the "wrestlers" were great sports, particularly those who fought the last few fights. (If you were there and saw how much everyone was sweating in those puffy sumo costumes, then you know what I mean. I think I saw a splash when Sting and Sue Schneider hit the floor together during the final bout.) It was good to see people in the industry so enthusiastic about raising funds for a good cause, and it was good to see the heads of very successful I-gaming companies set aside their pride to help that cause. Kudos as well to, Online Casino News and for their highly entertaining sumo coverage leading up to the event. I was particularly touched by the story of Bryan Bailey's robot, whose girlfriend, Brontë, was abducted by Bailey's sumo foe (not to be confused with "sue mofo") Michael Casseli. (Click here for a pictorial.) And there's more coverage to come! had someone video taping the event, and we're told their production team is putting something together as we speak.

The pre-event hype also produced some great trash talking by the wrestlers. Some choice comments:

"When I first met Buttercup he was a picture of health--an Army Paratrooper of 11 years--but after several subsequent years surviving on a diet of pink ladies, Bacardi Breezers, penile enlargement drugs and mini Kit Kats, I am not sure his bloated frame can take the abuse of the sumo ring."
- Vortran007, manager of CasinoMeister's Bryan Bailey, as quoted in, the online magazine published by Michael Caselli.

"Will there be a paramedic present? Mr. Turner might need one."
- BetOnSports' David Carruthers, commenting on the his upcoming match vs. Cole Turner from BoDog.

"I personally don't think Carruthers stands a chance against me. My recent trip to Cambodia has certainly aided in my development and will to survive under pressure packed situations."
- Turner

And now for the latest on the insanely fascist crackdown on advertising. . . News of the DOJ seizing $3.25 million from Discovery (money given to the broadcaster for running online poker ads on the Travel Channel) shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. Actually, I can't believe it took so long. This is the classic Spitzer model (i.e. throwing huge fines at companies that can afford to pay them) at it's best. It drove PayPal out of the I-gaming business, so why not take on broadcasters? There is, of course, one major difference between the Gruender and Spitzer crusades. Gruender is messing with the First Amendment, and that can be dangerous. I don't know how much that matters to him though because Friday was his last day at the job. (He's been promoted to judge.) Also notable is that the $3.25 million wasn't really Discovery's to lose. It was owed to Paradise Poker, which means online gambling takes the hit.

On to Vegas. . . The World Series of Poker is huge. Is there any doubt that they can thank online poker for this? And what thanks do they give? They ban online poker apparel from the final table.

Wouldn't it have been interesting if the industry saw this coming and organized a boycott? The top poker sites pitch in to offer players compensation if they walk and the final table is diminished to four players.

What if next year the online sites send six of nine to the final table? A three-man final would be a bit of a dud, don't you think?

Okay, so WSOP and ESPN would probably ban I-gaming qualifiers starting next year, but at this point I think WSOP benefits more from having them then the online sites do. The same goes for Travel Channel and its mega-hit "World Poker Tour." The fact is online poker doesn't need ESPN or Travel Channel or WSOP. Maybe it's time to get something going on Sky. I kind of like the interactivity factor Sky brings to the table.

As for WSOP and ESPN and their roll in the DOJ's insanely fascist crackdown on advertising, don't think for a second that they don't realize they need online poker. They do, and they're trying to have the best of both worlds. They gladly took $10k from each online qualifier and allowed them to wear their online poker hats and t-shirts throughout the tournament. Then they turned around and banned the apparel at the final table to show the DOJ they're doing their part not to propagate "illegal activity." Beautiful. Take part in the censorship AND profit from the censored material.

Finally, a word on Australian policy. . . The federal government's approach toward online gambling has grown increasingly restrictive, and some are advocating a prohibition on funding transactions, similar to what's been proposed in the United States. Unlike their U.S. counterparts, however, the banking industry Down Under won't have it. The Australian Banking Association has gone on record as opposing any such ban because of the enforcement nightmare doing so would create. The ABA made this clear last month in its submission to the DCITA, which is considering whether the federal government needs to give its I-gaming prohibition law some more teeth. Depending on which side of the fence you're on, either Australia needs someone like Spitzer to come along and bully the banking institution or the United States needs an association like the ABA to take a stance.

That's all for now.

Mark Balestra

Mark Balestra is the Managing Director at BolaVerde Media Group. He previously worked at Clarion Gaming and the River City Group where he was the publisher of iGamingNews. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri.