Poker World Predictions for 2013
Bold predictions are fun. We've made a few over the years and once in awhile get to pat ourselves on the back and say "told ya so". Unfortunately, our predictions for 2012 were mediocre at best, so here's hoping to a more "told ya so" friendly 2013.
Major U.S. Facing Site(s) Indicted
online poker 468x60
2013 will be the year of Black Friday V2.0 only this time there should be no sympathy for players whose money vanishes into oblivion. Customers of major U.S.-facing sites should view their money like Monopoly money right now. Further U.S. government intervention may even be unnecessary to trigger a failure on the part of Carbon Poker, Lock Poker or some similar outfit to fail at reimbursing their players en masse.
Recently, Lock Poker began dangling jaw-dropping first-time deposit bonuses in front of players like 200% up to $4,000 or 100% up to $5,000. This unusually generous bonus model is clearly an attempt on their part to spike temporary liquidity in their games to generate rake. If Full Tilt ended up being a house of cards, you'd better believe there's a great chance these places are as well. 2013 should be the year the poker world is unable to ignore this reality any further.
After surrendering to U.S. authorities, Ray Bitar now awaits trial on nine counts of financial crimes related to his role as CEO of Full Tilt Poker which, if convicted and given the maximum sentence on all counts, could result in a life imprisonment.
Bitar will settle with the U.S. The post-Black Friday track record of the DOJ has been generous about settling with those who were indicted. Bitar won't want to risk a trial that could result in spending the rest of his years in prison. The U.S. shouldn't view this as a favorable outcome either as they are most interested in convictions. Look for Bitar to cut a deal that results in 6-24 months behind bars and a whole lot of asset forfeiture.
Governor Christie Legalizes Online Poker in New Jersey
2013 will be the year legal online poker is finally played in the U.S. Nevada online poker is an imminent reality; some operators should have cards in the air in time for the World Series of Poker. New Jersey should be next to join when Governor Chris Christie signs into a law a bill that recently passed the state's legislative bodies. Christie vetoed a similar bill in 2011 citing reasonable concerns most of which have been addressed this time around.
But while New Jersey's legal framework for online poker will have a fruitful 2013, don't expect much online poker action to take place just yet within that state's borders. As Nevada has shown us, the process of online poker rooms gaining licensing and launching their platforms is no expedient process.
PokerStars Continues to Approach Online Poker Monopoly
According to PokerScout.com, the average number of cash game players at PokerStars and its sister property Full Tilt Poker is a combined 28,500. In second place is Party Poker all the way back at 3,650 players. One need not go far down the list to reach the OnGame Network, home to sites like Betfair Poker, at under 1,000 real-money cash players logged in at any given time.
Non-PokerStars properties are crippling under the weight of the industry giant. Most online poker money changes hands through their software products. There is no formidable opponent to PokerStars' growing towards a near-monopoly in online poker. To be fair to PokerStars, they deserve it. They are far and away the best outfit in the online gaming world. They have better software, better marketing, a better company financial picture to support growth and innovation. It would take some shocking and unforeseen circumstances to reverse the trend of PokerStars dominating the global real-money online poker space.
A Quiet Year for Federal Online Poker Legislation
If you're refreshing your browser waiting for news to surface of legal online poker making an advancement at the federal level in the U.S., turn off your computer and go outside for some fresh air. It ain't happening. U.S. legislators have their hands full with far bigger issues than online poker.