One of the best things about online poker is the fact that you can be sat on your computer playing against real people from all corners of the globe. I was just playing at Full Tilt Poker and as I sometimes do, I hovered over the avatars to see who I was up against. I was battling it out with players from the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Lithuania, and of course America. People from different time zones, different cultures, speaking different languages – all sharing one common goal; to play poker, with rakeback, and win money off one and other. Poker is a truly global game.
It’s quite sad that some countries are now effectively banning their citizens from playing online poker against the rest of the world. New laws have been (or are being) introduced by some countries to supposedly “protect the players” – but their real goal is to increase tax revenue.
Let’s look at France. The French can no longer play on many of the major online poker rooms. Okay, they weren’t supposed to be able to play at the sites legally anyway. To allow for the “opening up” of online poker, poker rooms such as PokerStars and PartyPoker have to apply for a French license if they wish to operate legally. First they have to close all existing accounts for those players. So if you live in France you can no longer player at PokerStars.com, you have to go via PokerStars.fr and play against your fellow Frenchmen. It’s a similar situation in Italy, and there’s talk of more new laws. I’m not sure how these laws will be ratified by the EU, but in the case of France, I’m sure what Mr Sarkozy wants, Mr Sarkozy gets.
I really hope that these changes don’t become commonplace. I fear this might be the future of online poker, particularly for countries that currently have an anti-online gambling stance. Regulation of online poker is the desire of many poker players, particuarly in the United States. But at what price? Do you want to play against only Americans? Or how about only players in your own state? That would suck.