The big news in online poker is that Daniel Tzvetkoff was arrested this week on charges of money laundering. Who is Daniel Tzvetkoff, you ask? He is a used-to-be Australian internet billionaire who has recently lost most of his fortunes through his poor business dealings. He set up the online payment processing companies Automated Clearing House and Intabill, and is now charged by the U.S. government with laundering over a half a billion dollars.
Here is my take on the entire fiasco.
1. Contrary to some online reports, he is not being charged under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). This new law has yet to be enacted. Tzvetkoff is being charged with laundering money, by taking poker player’s winnings and running them through several dummy companies and hiding how the money was actually accumulated.
2. Tzvetkoff is a loser and has made his fortunes figuring out how to rip people off.
3. His arrest is not the bad news to poker players that the reports media is making it out to be. In fact, it is good news. It proves, once again, that the U.S. Government needs to regulate the industry. This guy was able to make a fortune for himself by taking advantage of online players.
Congress has scheduled hearings on the implementation of the UIEGA (was scheduled for this week, but now postponed again) and momentum is building for the government to modify the law to allow poker to be played for money, with deposits to online accounts taxed by the government.
While the proposed changes aren’t perfect, they are at least a step in the right direction. The amount they are going to tax the deposits is far more than it reasonably should be, but at least oversight from the federal government is a step in the right direction. As long as the industry has no legitimate oversight, there will always be the fear of the host sites cheating the players. Las Vegas used to be famous for the casinos fixing machines and games, back when it first was founded. Today, with intense oversight, the games are clean.
A recent trip by me to the Dominican Republic proved that this isn’t the case in all casinos. I played an obvious crooked roulette wheel, where there was no doubt a magnet on the wheel. The ball would fly around the wheel as it spun, and then somehow slide up the inside of the wheel and stay in one place, in complete defiance of physics. This sort of practice can be avoided with simple government oversight of the industry.
So don’t be that bothered by Tzvetkoff’s arrest. He was a crook, and needs to be in jail. Instead, go now to www.theppa.org, the home site of the Poker Player’s Alliance, and become a member. The PPA is figting for your rights as a player, and is working closely with congress to get the UIGEA overturned.