Friday, April 04, 2008

Nat Arem Claims "60 Minutes" Wants to "Out" Online Poker Cheats!


The piece slated to air on CBS' "60 Minutes" regarding the online poker industry and a notorious "insider poker cheat" has the entire industry fearing the damage that might occur in its aftermath. In a past "60 Minutes" segment, Chief CBS correspondent Morley Safer revealed how easy it was for minors to access online casinos with their parents' credit cards. That was bad enough for the industry, but it got over it.

Now, Nat Arem, a well known poker insider, claims that "60 Minutes," in conjunction with a reporter from the Washington Post, contacted him regarding a story about the Absolute Poker scandal from last fall. For those of you who don't remember the details of the biggest scandal in the history of online poker, back in September, Absolute Poker began fending off accusations made by members of several Internet forums that the online poker room had a "superuser" account which allowed one player to read the hole cards of others during a game. By October, widespread Internet allegations of cheating led to the Kahnawake Gaming Commission opening an investigation. Both Absolute Poker and Kahnawake later confirmed an "internal breach" in which a crooked insider, Alan John Grimard, did indeed see other players' hole cards during play.

What is really bad about this "60 Minutes" expose is that it butts heads with attempts to get online gambling legalized in the United States. While politicians and the Poker Players Alliance (a million-plus-member organization trying to get it legalized) appeared in Washington this week for a hearing on the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, online poker players expressed deep concern about CBS' intentions for their "60 Minutes" segment, which are clearly to expose vast cheating scandals.

Exposing the Absolute "internal breach" to the masses will hurt not only Absolute Poker but all other online poker rooms, and even more the ones that have had to deal with major scams, such as Full Tilt Poker, Ultimate Bet and PokerStars. And more damaging to the industry as a whole: most viewers will not differentiate one online poker site from another. If it can happen at one Internet poker room, they'll surmise, it can happen at all of them.

Mr. Grimard is still running around free and neither Absolute nor the Kahnawake Gaming Commission have filed a complaint against him. If "60 Minutes" plans to focus its investigation on Grimard, they certainly have the resources to locate him. Another related scandalous incident "60 Minutes" might look into is the rumor that Absolute Poker bigwigs, trying to silence the cheating scandal before it got out, flew two individuals who were especially vocal about the incident to Antigua and supplied them with hookers, booze and other favors that might persuade them not to keep on rambling about the Absolute Poker Scam.

Still another sensitive topic at CBS' disposal is the "bedfellows" relationship between Absolute Poker and the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. Who knows what's going on there? Some industry observers have been vocal in expressing their opinions that it's a "little too cozy" in light of the seemingly small penalty that the Commission imposed on Absolute Poker for its "negligence" in the scandal.

So we will see what effect this has on the US government in terms of legalizing and regulating the online poker industry, now a multi-billion dollar affair.