FTP’s Downfall Sparks New Poker Rules
July 30, 2011, Posted by Pokerfarm
Full Tilt Poker was granted a stay of execution this week by the Alderney Gambling Control Commission, who adjourned their July 26 hearing to give the scandal-ridden giant more time to negotiate an acquisition deal.
However, the fallout of the Black Friday indictments and FTP scandal continues to influence governmental attitudes to online poker around the world.
Since last year, French residents have only been allowed to play at online poker rooms based and regulated in France. Residents of other EU countries are allowed to play in French rooms, but not vice-versa. The results have been predictable: astonishingly soft tables coupled with cripplingly high rake, including a 2% drop on every pot that goes straight to government coffers in Paris. Not only did regulation destroy the standard of play in French rooms, but it also rendered it extremely difficult for anyone aside from the government to make a profit. Italian legislation is even more draconian; foreign players are not allowed access to Italian rooms, and it was only relatively recently that non-tournament play was allowed.
Other European governments, catalysed by the FTP scandal, are now looking to follow suit and crack down on off-shore sites. This week saw publication of a draft of Spain's new regulatory measures for online poker. It would allow players from outside Spain to join the new segregated rooms, but.the good news ends there. What follows is one of the most bizarre, byzantine attempts to control gambling habits ever committed to paper.
For starters, players would be limited to depositing €2000 per month. As a protective measure, it would be low enough to frustrate professional players, yet high enough that it would offer no protection to problem gamblers. Unless the Spanish economy is doing considerably better than everyone thinks, there can't be too many gambling addicts who can afford to lose €24,000 a year. On the other hand, poker rooms would find it difficult to generate much traffic at anything above the micro-stakes when it would take months to deposit a large bankroll
Luckily, the Spanish regulators have foreseen this problem, and in their inestimable wisdom have decided to implement a table cap of 30BB across all stakes and games. This sentence serves as a textual pause to allow you to digest the full idiocy of such a policy. For starters, capping buy-ins at 30BBs would destroy any semblance of strategy beyond memorizing starting-hand charts and knowing what beats what. One wonders if the Spanish government have such a low opinion of their citizens' intelligence that want to make the game less complicated, or if they've simply failed to include anyone in the consulting process that knows what sides of the cards face up.
The final, baffling provision of the draft is the stupidity-cherry atop the moron-sundae. No player would be permitted to lose more than 75% of their account balance in any one day. Even ignoring the total and unashamed arbitrariness of such a figure, it is perverse to dictate not only how much money a player is permitted to deposit with a poker room, but also the manner in which they are allowed to manage it. It would effectively make the tiny deposit limits even smaller, and seems barely enforceable when players join more than one table.
At a time when the UK is mulling new poker rules and Poland has banned online gambling outright, the draft Spanish legislation provides a grim example of what will happen if governments begin to exert more control over gambling regulation. FTP, this is all your fault.