Despite Black Friday nearly bringing the online poker world to its knees (the industry is still thriving overseas, but growth is a thing of the past) the online poker world has done little to calm the fears of the next Full Tilt Poker, keeping their inner workings, licensing, and regulations as secret as possible. Even PokerStars’, the shining beacon of the industry, claims of segregated funds is little more than a promise. It’s time for online poker to take the much needed step of divulging their inner workings. The poker world needs this transparency; from ownership to player funds in order to feel comfortable depositing their money at an online poker site.
So what can online poker sites do that would show their potential customers that they are now 100% on the up-and-up and transparent? Here are the three things I feel must be done for online poker to once again breakthrough to the mainstream public:
- Conduct Independent Audits
- Visible Ownership and Management
- Address Player Funds
Visible Ownership and Management
When the Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet Super-User scandals were unfolding the corporate structure of these sites was basically unknown to the poker world. There were rumors and we knew certain names of people involved, but what we didn’t know was these people’s roles inside the company. Without this transparency in the corporate structure there is no way to hold people accountable.
Even in the aftermath of the scandals, key figures at Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet were able to stay entrenched with the company while publicly declaring they no longer have anything to do with the company! They were even able to hide their involvement from key individuals, potentially up to executive management.
If online poker is going to be taken seriously, they will need to abandon this veil of secrecy and layout their corporate structure. Players should know where the ownership stakes are, and who the upper level management is at any online poker site.
This visibility needs to extend past individuals, and into the corporations that some poker sites setup to try to buffer their ownership from any potential legal threats (Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker used several shell companies to conduct some of their business and to insulate the real owners of the site).
We should also have information on companies that have been bought by these sites. It’s important that we know if Site A owns Site B, or owns some third-party software provider, or perhaps the most alarming possibility (which is actually the case right now) if sites and their regulatory bodies are in bed together.
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