Perspectives Weekly

by , Nov 28, 2008 | 12:13 pm


Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, except for the crew of the 60 Minutes television show. They plan to air a story of lies about our industry this Sunday, and we’ve got a preview of the piece. Plus we discuss what’s been going on over the past 30 days, and what to look for over the next 30 days.

20 Comments to “Perspectives Weekly”

  1. DanM

    Dude, J Todd … you know I respect your work, but I think you’re really missing the boat on pegging the 60 Minutes episode as a bunch of lies — especially before you’ve seen it. We’ve all seen the preview, and click below to see the interview with Steve Kroft about it:

    I’ve yet to find a single lie.

    And perhaps you can give me one single example from 60 Minutes 41-year history where a story they did turned out to be filled with “lies”?

    Yes, they report news to sell advertising — that’s every media outlet in the world. If your point here were valid, thought, that’s like saying CNN wants to support war because it increases their ratings. But this story is still too small potatoes for them to be doing it just for that purpose. What, are they gonna get a bunch of PokerStars ads as a result? Focus on the Family ads?

    Not a chance. This is a compelling story to them because a company stole $10s of millions from its own customers … and the customers being cheated where the ones who caught them, using essentially the same technology. That’s a story of interest to their 14+ million viewers who could give a shit about online gambling.

    We should be happy that they are finally paying attention, because the UIGEA wasn’t enough to make other people care.

  2. Chuck Barnett


    It was Russ Hamilton and Co. who stole the money, and following the investigation, the liquidators for ExCapsa (who owned the company when the fraudulant play began) were forced to submit the funds to the present owner, in order that they reimburse all players whose games could have possibly been impacted.

  3. DanM

    Chuck, thanks for keeping me straight on the technical details. Your willingness to address the issues on “visitors” turf should be commended. (Perhaps they shoulda put you on camera?)

    And if the 60 Minutes does turn out to be a bunch of lies, I’ll be the first to eat my words on it.

  4. J Todd

    Dan, if 60 Minutes does a good job I think my record indicates I will more than happy to say so publicly.

    However, just the preview for the story already rolled out two lies in less that two minutes: 1) That online gambling is illegal in the US, and, 2) That it’s a mostly unregulated industry.

    Online gambling is NOT illegal in the US on a Federal level as the story implies, and the industry is actually 50 / 50 from a regulatory standpoint at this time. In fact, the President of the AGA told me that many online jurisdictions (UK, Isle of Man, Gibralter) are actually as tough or tougher than Nevada… and perfectly respectable regulatory bodies. Wonder if that will be reported Sunday night.

    So, I hope truly the story is evenhanded, because it’s about time the truth comes out. But, from what I know of the US mass media, and the two lies they are already perpetuating, my expectations are just not very high.

  5. Chuck Barnett

    No trouble Dan, seriously. This has always proven to be one of the most civil and informed outlets, so I dont mind coming here on my free time. Look, J Todd and I have not agreed in the past, but when I saw the APCW piece last night I was pretty sure he nailed it.

    I corresponded with Gil Gaul from the Washington Post and Ira Rosen at 60 Minutes over a period of about 5-6 months, and from the time we started, to our last email in the matter about a month ago, they were still not “getting it”.

    There was an arrogant sort of, “Hey, we’re 60 Minutes, from the US of A…you dont tell US, we’ll tell YOU..” swagger about them, as we sat down and laid out all the facts. However, they were less concerned about the actual cheating, how it was pulled off, etc..than creating a case for something else.

    Its poor netiquette, but I’ve held onto all the emails exchanged over that period and they’re…well… not encouraging.

    I was around on the day of the shoot over here, and off-camera and in the hallway, they were still scrambling to hunt out Russ Hamilton, and were ticked at the fact that they had actually interviewed him earlier in the year and that he had made no mention of his pre-existing relationship with the ExCapsa group.

    From standing around outside and overhearing the chain smoking Kroft yell into his cell phone, it sounded like they were again insulted that Hamilton did not buckle under the pressure and open up to them and ADMIT his role in the cheating, when they had him in their clutches months ago.

    Now, they would have to go to all the work of trying to find him. Again, they sounded more insulted that he dare not “spill his beans” for their story, rather than the fact that they actually had the guy at the heart of the story in their grasp at one point.

    As for me, I just sat back and shook my head quietly….these guys ARE 60 Minutes afterall.

  6. J Todd


    You and I are from very different segments of the industry but on the same side. The next time you attend an event we should sit down, as we may not be so far apart in our philosophies.

  7. DanM

    ***1) That online gambling is illegal in the US, and, 2) That it’s a mostly unregulated industry.***

    OK, so this is a matter of perspective, (or perspectives weekly, as you might say?). What they say is not that “playing” online poker is illegal, but that the “industry” is. The Department of Justice would agree with that one. As would anyone who has tried to facilitate money transfers on behalf of the game.

    If it were fully legal, the dot-com’s would be able to advertise on American TV, could sponsor the WSOP, and it would not be easier to buy weed than it is to get your money off of full tilt.

    At best, we are like the head shops in the industry … what head shops do is technically legal, but they exist around an industry that is illegal in some ways, in some parts.

    As to regulation, if anything, that line is guilty of being American-centric … implying that we are not regulated by the US Feds, which is again true.

  8. DanM

    ***Now, they would have to go to all the work of trying to find him.***

    Chuck, if you guys could catch Russ Hamilton — I’ll give you his address and phone number if you need it — and lock him up in Mohawk prison, then I think the regulatory power of KGC would carry more weight.

    I’ll give you another example … when theV0id got her money ganked for a rules violation in the 2007 WCOOP … she had no recourse or appeal save for courts in the isle of man … which pokerstars arguably controls. in a FULLY legal environment, an accused cheater would have a place somewhere where they could theoretically have a fair case heard by an impartial jury.

    This is simply not the case right now, even with the most legitimate sites.

    And, btw, that’s why these issues are so much bigger than poker … they are about the transfer of monies across international boundaries … something that will be fought, discussed, and eventually argued in the US Supreme Court over the next 10, 15, or 20 years.

    That’s the part I’m eager to see if 60 Minutes “gets”. (And I doubt they will, though I suspect they’ll hint at it.)

  9. Kevin Mathers

    ***I’ll give you another example … when theV0id got her money ganked for a rules violation in the 2007 WCOOP … she had no recourse or appeal save for courts in the isle of man … which pokerstars arguably controls.***

    Isn’t this claim suspicious at best? She was trying to get something that wasn’t hers ($1.2m), and when confronted with the evidence Pokerstars had that she didn’t play on that account, she withdrew her claim.

  10. DanM

    yeah, i’m not defending her … this coulda been a bad example on my part, as i don’t really know the details of this specific case. my point was really just that if full tilt or pokerstars decides to take your money for a rule violation, regardless of how major or minor, you don’t really have an avenue to protest.

  11. Kevin Mathers

    That point I can agree with you Dan. I was just reading into your opinion that PokerStars and the other online gambling sites somehow “run” the Isle of Man legal system.

  12. J Todd

    Dan, I don’t think it’s worth our arguing this point because, as you said, it’s mostly ones perspective.

    I do believe there is little doubt, however, that the American media has a record of presenting “facts” in a skewed manner that is never flattering for our industry… and they do so to make the story more juicy and increase viewership. Most media is just entertainment these days. That’s why almost every story now has a “title” to it, is “shocking”, and a “must see”.

    So let’s just watch what 60 Minutes does, because I would LOVE to be wrong about this. After all, I’ve been fighting to get the truth out about online gambling for over two years now, and a major story like this could be a great boost. But, having watched the BS go on and on since 2006, it should really be no surprise that I’m so pesemistic.

  13. Chuck Barnett

    J., I think we’re on exactly the same wavelength here, as I was thinking pretty much the same thing while I was having my coffee this morning. I’m going to be in London for the IGE show which ends just a day before the Affiliate Conference. If you’ll be there for the Affiliate show, I’ll adjust my flight to stick around so we can catch up.

    Dan, if you are confident you know where this er…”person” can actualy be found, can we arrange for an exchange of details? Given the multi-jurisdictional complexity of this issue, the KGC and its agents are working with multiple policing agencies to ensure that charges can be laid and criminal proceedings initiated.

    I’ve never really gone into it before, but as a former Regulatory Enforcement and Compliance Agent for the KGC back in the early years of this industry, Ive investigated probably every possible type complaint (some seriously off the wall-remind me to tell you about the guy who complained that his CAT entered his Visa Card # onto a website and lost $2500 playing BJ) that you could imagine.

    With the KGC, players DO have recourse which is critical to creating the strongest regulatory environment possible. Complaints lodged with the KGC are read by a real person, investigated and if an operator is found to have committed an offense, and does not correct the matter, the KGC retains the absolute authority to pull the license.

    At which point, the KGC would contact my office at the cohosting facility, provide the terms of the violation and instruct my office to immediately suspend network connectivity and seize their servers and systems, until they rectify the matter.

    For the operators, its just not worth the risk to play fast and loose with the players, as they really do stand to lose it all in one phone call to my office.

    I know its one helluva long boring read, but I would actually encourage folks to download the KGC Rules and Regulations (about 66 pages, so be sure to load up the printer) and understand that the players do have recourse if they should ever feel that they were wronged.

    Its a good enough read, enough so that almost all of my colleagues in other iGaming jurisdictions who have entered into the arena since 1998 have borrowed liberally from it.

    Sorry folks, I didnt mean to run on this long, as Im not a soapbox kind of Mohawk, I just believe that education is empowerment.

    Tho Niiowennake.
    (These Are My Words.)

  14. Kevin Mathers

    Since you didn’t provide a link Chuck, I assume it can be found at

  15. Chuck Barnett

    Thanks Kevin, yep that looks like the one.

    Typically available at

  16. J Todd

    Chuck, I am not sure yet if I will be sent to cover the Affiliate Summit in Las Vegas or the ICE event in London this January… maybe both… but I will certainly let you know. Thanks!

  17. DanM

    I am glad Pokerati could facilitate such a love-fest.

  18. DanM

    ***Dan, if you are confident you know where this er…”person” can actualy be found, can we arrange for an exchange of details? Given the multi-jurisdictional complexity of this issue, the KGC and its agents are working with multiple policing agencies to ensure that charges can be laid and criminal proceedings initiated.***

    Chuck — very glad to hear it, I believe you have google my email address (danm [at] pokerati [dot] com).

    Would be happy to take this discussion offline for a spell.

  19. Chuck Barnett

    Stay in touch over the next few weeks J., if its just a matter of laying over in London for an extra day or two for us to catch up, then that works for me. My email is chuck(AT) .

    As for Dan, yeah Pokerati is still one of those rare places where you can peek your head in to say “hi” and not have the inmates fling their fecal matter at you!

    As always folks, dont hesitate to contact me if theres anything I can assist with. If I dont have what you need, I can find out who does.


  20. J Todd

    Got the email, thanks…

    And thank YOU Dan for facilitating the love-fest!

    Good letter, postie… I read it this evening. Now, if CBS actually reads it is another thing all together =0(