America may be celebrating the passing of Osama Bin Laden, but for as many as 50,000 freshly jobless faces it will be a short-lived joy. Since the first waves of shock have swept over the online poker community since Friday the 15th of April (now nicknamed “Black Friday”), some of the ramifications of the US government’s actions are becoming clear.
As well as the arrest of 11 men; the founders of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker UltimateBet and Absolute Poker, the sites were seized by the FBI and promptly closed for American citizens. The founders are now facing billions of dollars worth of fines as well as the threat of lengthy prison sentences. Besides that, countless numbers of American players are being deprived of the game they loved.
Online poker presented the perfect medium for poker fans to play the game from the comfort of their own home, particularly those who did not have regular access to a casino. In some instances, it allowed players to face off against, and learn from, the very best in the business. However according to numbers recently released by the Poker Player’s Alliance (PPA), around 50,000 Americans counted online poker not merely as their hobby, but their career.
Naturally this is a career to which they have now been denied, and they face a dilemma over where they should go from here. Some were so successful in their online poker skills that they became self-made millionaires, but do not have the stardom of celebrity poker players to fall back on. ESPN recently noted that some of these successful online players are actually disabled or suffered from mental health issues. Online poker offered them a degree of self-sufficiency and independence, as well as allowing them to interact with like-minded people via the internet on a daily basis, without fear of prejudice or judgement.
Unemployment is on the rise in America, and in many other countries around the world it is an increasing problem. The United States Federal government, however, has ensured the ranks are swelled by another 50,000.
Personally, I would move to Canada.