Saturday, July 22, 2006

Eurobet, Pokerchamps Bar U.S. Players

It didn't take long for a couple of smaller online skins to follow the forced hand of BETonSPORTS PLC, and shut off access to their sites for U.S.-based players. The two sites, Eurobet and Pokerchamps, are both players with very little U.S. penetration, and Eurobet is rather similar to BETonSPORTS om other regards, being a British-based concern whose primary revenues are derived from bookmaking, not online poker.

While the Pokerchamps move is more surprising, there's one other factor that's received precious little air within the poker community. Like Eurobet and BoS, Pokerchamps is also a U.K. company, and the U.S. has a draconian, one-sided extradition treaty with the U.K. that allows British citizens to be seized and sent into U.S. jurisdiction under often-dubious pretenses, a perhaps unintended offshoot of anti-terrorist agreements drawn up between the two nations. In a way, U.S. customers of Pokerchamps and Eurobet can blame 9/11 for their no longer being able to play.

Remember all those people complaining that the Patriot Act would cause an overall erosion of individual liberties? You may now realize, of course, that they were right. Well-intentioned but freedom-limiting laws are always, eventually, abused by the zealous and self-righteous, who seize on any ambiguities or marginal applications of said laws to further their own agendas in ways not seen by many at the time of enactment. It's not a matter of right or wrong; it's just a sad acknowledgement of human nature.

Fortunately, there are a whole lot of sites that are incorporated in places other than Britain, and as pointed out elsewhere, those sites are starting to fight back against the Goodlatte/Leach/Frist crowd through organizations such as the World Trade Organization. In this second battle it may turn out to be the U.S. against the world, and we can always hope that in this one, the U.S. loses.

For reasons beyond the scope of online poker, this would be a very good thing.

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