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Pacific Poker Fights for Justice

by Jesse May |  Published: Aug 01, 2005


There was a time when playing poker on the Internet seemed a bit of a double gamble. If it wasn't enough

risking your hard-earned funds on an inside straight draw with two cards to come, there was also a perceived gamble about poker site integrity. The fact that some online poker sites are based in offshore havens, Caribbean islands, and other legal limbos did little to improve player confidence, and the question of legal recourse has long been present in the world of online gambling.

Most players' first concern when choosing an Internet site at which to play is not the quality of the games or innovations in the software; instead, it is still a matter of player confidence and site security. Though it sounds like a paradox, you can't be too careful when you are preparing to gamble. And that's how it should be.

Until now, much policing has been done by the players themselves, on the many poker forums that exist on the Internet; 99 percent of grudges and gripes are no more than that, and the democratic nature of poker forums provides objective opinions about poker problems. While forum threads don't often result in dispute resolutions, at least a player with a problem no longer feels that he is living in a shoe box while sitting in his underwear. It's not a perfect system, but up to now, that's all the online poker community had.

Pacific Poker recently spurred the setup of an independent arbitration board for the online poker industry called E-Resolve. Pacific Poker executive Richard Bloch explained to me, "We felt that the lack of recourse for members who believed that they had been unfairly treated did not promote the level of confidence that should exist when dealing with reputable sites. As some sites are regularly accused of just withholding members' money, we wanted to promote a level of transparency within the industry and to be at the forefront of anything that improved security for poker players."

The E-Resolve board currently comprises five members, including a former director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, a former chief inspector of the Gaming Board for Great Britain, and an editor of the Gaming Law Review.

Anybody can bring a dispute to the E-Resolve board, and if the opposing party agrees to submit to the resolution process, an arbitrator will be appointed to the case. E-Resolve promises, "Resolution services will include statement of facts from both parties, and statements of facts will be distributed to all parties.

Each party will be provided the opportunity to respond to the statement of facts from each other, and the arbitrator shall have the option of requesting additional information from either party. Once the case has been heard, the decision will be drafted and delivered to both parties within a 14-day period."

While Pacific Poker has been instrumental in the setup of E-Resolve, it is not run by, or for, them. "Poker players can contact E-Resolve regarding any site that they play at. This hopefully will improve the overall image of the industry," said Bloch. Actually, Pacific goes even a step further in demonstrating that it is transparency that it wants above all else, by donating all funds Pacific may obtain through E-Resolve arbitration to charity, as it recently did in a $21,000 collusion case.

This excites me. The issue of industrywide transparency is close to my heart, and I'm enthused to see advocates of this process from industry leaders. It would be even more refreshing to hear other poker sites embrace submission of player and poker-site disputes to independent arbitration.

The 2005 World Series of Poker is about to kick off, and by the time this issue goes to press, the $66 million main event will be with starters at the mark. I will be in Vegas for the duration, helping to launch a new poker talk show, The Poker Show, which will be distributed on broadband video through Come and check us out.