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Poker News | World Poker News

CBS’ 60 Minutes to Investigate Absolute Poker

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According to a recent article written by Nolan Dalla, the CBS investigative/news program 60 Minutes has decided to focus some of its attention on online poker, specifically the Absolute Poker cheating scandal. While no air date is set and most of the interviews have yet to take place, it is said that correspondent Steve Croft is heading up the investigation.

Croft is scheduled to interview several people at CBS’ New York headquarters within the next few weeks of March. There is also word that a film crew will head to Costa Rica, presumably to interview some of the executives at the Absolute Poker offices, as well as Canada (where the Kahnawake Gaming Commission is located) and Las Vegas.

The scope of the 60 Minutes investigation is unknown at this time. Whether the focus will be solely on the Absolute Poker scandal or broadened to look at the entire online poker industry, as well as the U.S. government’s refusal to look at the topic in a fair or reasonable manner, has yet to be disclosed.

Nat Arem, one of the primary players who first began looking into the possibility of cheating at Absolute Poker and ended up breaking the story wide open, was contacted by 60 Minutes, in conjunction with the Washington Post, in late February or early March. He reported in a recent blog post that Croft wants to interview him and several others. Arem spoke to the producer of the show and the Washington Post reporters to recant the story of the Absolute Poker scandal.

Arem wrote that the agenda of the investigative television piece is to “tell the story from soup to nuts,” though what that truly means remains vague. And as far as when the filming will begin or when the airdate may be, there are no answers as of yet.

Many people have weighed in thus far with opinions on whether the story will be good or bad for poker players and the online poker community as a whole. Some anticipate that 60 Minutes will portray online gaming as a dangerous place, while others hope it will encourage government to want to regulate it instead of outlaw it. But until the interviews begin taking place in the studios, the film crew goes on location, and more people become involved, no one will know the angle. The story is now in the hands of the interviewees who will be asked to tell it.

I talked to my good friend Mark Seif about this bit of breaking news and it came as a total surprise to him. Seif is perhaps the most visible public "unofficial" spokesman and representative of Absolute Poker.

Despite an unwarranted association with the AP incident, Seif says the 60 Minutes piece is a terrific opportunity: "I think if millions of people see a segment on online poker and come to understand more about the industry, there will be greater support for (legalization)."

As a well-known tournament player in the public eye, people often associate him with the poker site, although (to my knowledge) he has no official title there. I remain utterly convinced Seif had nothing to do with the scandal and was personally embarrassed by the course of events.

The fact that Seif was not associated with the scandal was corroborated by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission investigation which concluded a few months ago. Nevertheless, Seif, a former trial attorney always with strong personal views, is the perfect spokesman for Absolute Poker and much of the industry, should he decide to go face-to-face with Steve Croft in front of the cameras.

If he's interviewed, Seif says he plans to use the scandal to justify precisely why online poker should be legalized and regulated within the United States. He says a 60 Minutes feature is a "terrific opportunity" to generate massive support for legislation that will eventually make online poker legal.

"This is what happens when there is little or no oversight," Seif told me when asked about the former problems at Absolute Poker. "I think if millions of people see a segment on online poker and come to understand more about the industry, there will be greater support for (legalization). After all, online poker is not going to go away."

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