The online poker site Pokerroom has reneged on an advertised prize guarantee of $19,000 plus a $2000 television, withdrawing money from winners’ accounts and blaming a technical error, according to this thread on PocketFives. Several posters reported emailing Pokerroom support after money was removed from their Pokerroom accounts without notice. They said support confirmed that Pokerroom would not be honoring the advertised prize pool guarantee.
Pokerroom had previously shut their doors to American players based on the recently passed legislation banning financial transactions with illegal gaming sites. A few US States explicitly ban online poker but the Federal Justice Department considers it illegal regardless of the fact that there is no Federal law banning Internet gambling and only 11 States ban any form of online gambling.
The obvious point is that outlawing something a lot of people like to do is not a way to build a stable, safe nation. People will always gamble. Poker is one of the most entertaining forms of gambling, combining skill and luck in an exciting and sometimes frustrating game. When government nannies make it illegal for adults to play, adults will simply play illegally. But so will children, since without regulation there are no controls on who a site can allow. And, as we have just seen, there is no recourse when a dishonest site decides to cheat its customers.
I cashed out of Pokerroom long ago after an extended debate with customer service in which they refused to admit a technical problem in the software that cost me a few dollars. The only site I completely trust is Full Tilt, because I know the people who run it and their integrity is beyond question. I suspect PokerStars is also OK but I don’t know them as well.
Until we succeed in turning around the nanny battleship in Washington: caveat emptor.