Is Online Poker Due For A Turnaround?

When the U.S. Department of Justice closed down four of the biggest poker sites in the world on April 15, there were a lot of doom and gloom predictions about the future of online poker. To be fair, in the last year we’ve witnessed the rise and fall of more than one online poker regulation proposal, seen sharp revenue declines, and just this week watched one of the world’s largest poker rooms get stripped of its ability to operate in either America or Europe. But now that the U.S. government is releasing emergency oil reserves and cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits, suddenly profiting from a voluntary, skill-based game like poker doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.

Cue Congressman Joe Barton and his new proposal, HR2366, the Online Poker Act of 2011. Barton announced HR2366 last week, and the potential legislation already has over a dozen sponsors from both sides of the aisle. We all know that online poker is a cash cow, and there’s nothing the United States needs more right now than revenue, so the word on the streets (and in the forums) is a lot more optimistic this time around.

Undoubtedly American gambling establishments prefer HR2366 to previous proposals because the bill would give them the exclusive right to obtain the first online poker licenses. While the PPA was quick to throw in behind Barton’s new bill, obviously it still has detractors. Even online gambling fans have criticized the bill for only covering poker, and many existing real money players are dubious about the practicality of the terms which forbid credit card deposits.

Even Full Tilt Poker fans got some good news this week. Though the poker forums were buzzing with rumors that Jack Binion was going to bail out FTP, this week the L.A. Times reported that a group of European investors just entered into a deal with Full Tilt’s parent company, Pocket Kings. While specifics on the deal are still forthcoming, Dwan was quick to seize on the story, gleefully tweeting, “Wheeee good news!” Early reports predicted that the deal could result in up to $150 million in player refunds.

Durrrr isn’t the only player that’s buying the bailout news. Phil Ivey, who has been one of Full Tilt’s biggest critics in the last month, withdrew his lawsuit against the company yesterday. His attorney, David Chesnoff, explained that Ivey saw the new deal as a sign that “Full Tilt is taking steps to see that the players are paid.”

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