Peter Dicks, sixty-four year old chairman of SportingBet, was visiting the U.S. for undisclosed business reasons. Dicks joins David Carruthers, of rival BetOnSports, in U.S. Custody. Shares of trade on the London exchange were suspended pending further information.
A quote from Mr. Dicks' company:
"Mr. Dicks was detained at JFK Airport, New York, by officers of the Port Authority of New York, whilst traveling from London to the US on non-Sportingbet related business. Mr. Dicks has since attended a hearing in New York City. At this hearing he was served with a warrant for his arrest initiated by the Louisiana State Police for the alleged violation of Louisiana State laws relating to gambling by computer (LA R.S. 14:90.3(E), Gambling by Computer).
"The charge is leveled against Mr. Dicks by name and a further hearing is expected next week.
"The Group itself has not received correspondence from any US authority regarding this or any related matter. The Company is closely monitoring the situation and will continue to operate as normal.
"Further information will be issued in due course."
It appears that U.S. Authorities are stalking the companies that have betting as a component of their poker or casino business. The laws on wire gambling are more clearly defined and give authorities the ability to make a lateral attack on the poker sites. The press has not clearly differentiated between the various types of sites. However, Mr. Dicks will be the guest of the state of Louisiana which has laws against any form of gambling. That does give us a different idea of the thinking behind the prosecutors.
Mr. Dicks also owns ParadisePoker and his company is traded on the London exchange. From the selected location for prosecution, it would appear that the Attorney General is working with states with strong gambling laws. And it appears that Customs is carrying a list of gambling executives that may be broader than we were assuming with the sport book aspect seeming the strong case.
Another concern is down the road. The WSOP and WPT shows depend on internet players to populate their operation. Representatives of these operations are at those venues with nice dinners and suites to attract and support players. Will the representatives of those operations be subject to the same arrests? And many pro players have contracts with those companies and could be considered employees as they often have a requirement to play on those sites. It would appear Louisiana could put a player in some of those games as a ringer. The sites often list home towns. And what is that pro going to do if someone from Podunk Junction, LA shows up on his table? The menu is filled with questions, questions, questions and very few answers are being served.
It doesn't look like too many folks associated with gambling overseas will be planning a U.S. Holiday very soon. And what are some of the pros (that are U.S. founder/stock holders) of the internet poker sites thinking? A prime example is FullTilt. A prosecutor's objective is to get a few clear, high profile convictions and then broaden the prosecutorial horizons. How about Daniel Negreanu who publicizes 'his' site-FullContactPoker?
The Internet and Enlightened Self Interest gives one a small glimpse of the furor over WSOP 06 participants; affording an ideal background for a prosecutor. It gives him a public foundation for pursuing poker in general.
Some of us just want to play poker. Is there an answer? Is there hope? Will the WSOP lose its luster and monumental player base because internet poker is taking a big hit through gambling and the law? Stay tuned.