One thing worth noting in all of this current online poker mess is that, as many people have pointed out, it's pretty impossible to kill off poker now. I'm not turning in my current "Yes, the sky is falling" hat, because I pretty strongly believe that it is indeed falling, for the short term, but I think the long term picture is actually fairly encouraging. Maybe even more encouraging, in the end, having gone through what we are right now. It was a pretty big asteroid that slammed into the online poker world in October but it was in no way a poker killing asteroid.
I think it's pretty inevitable, at some point, that the US government will give the green light to Harrah's or MGM to launch a "safe", "responsible" environment for all of us silly US citizens who can't protect ourselves otherwise to play online poker at. They'll tax the hell out of it, we'll all have to suffer through the same growing pains as it ramps up, but it's not crazy at all to imagine that some version of the above will be reality, five years from now.
I think the saving grace, somewhat ironically, is going to be the creaking Social Security system. We're reaching crunch time there, as far as it becoming harder and harder to simply stuff our collective heads, as a country, in the sand and pretend that the whole Social Security thing is going to work itself out. We've got about ten years until it's running in the red, and once it starts picking up momentum in that direction, it's going to be a bitch of a runaway train to stop.
People are finally waking up to that fact. Unfortunately, there's not a lot more of a load you can put on consumers, as we continue to max out our credit cards and carry a personal debt load that's unprecedented, while we continue to save less and less. Real estate is wobbling and everyone has already re-financed to pile up even more debt. Property taxes are already insane in many regions of the country. Charging $50 for a pack of cigarettes isn't going to be a long-term solution, either.
There's not a long list of new things we can tax that we aren't currently, as far as generating money to offset Social Security plunging into the red. Pretty much weed and online gambling. And for reasons I will never understand, we're still really far away from getting our heads around the idea of legalizing and taxing weed.
So that leaves online gambling, which, logically, is a no-brainer. We've already decided that it's morally cool to gamble in many states across the nation, as long as you physically sit your ass in an actual chair. So we're cool with the concept, just not (based on recent developments), the execution of it, as it's far too dangerous to allow US citizens to gamble online now because we will either "click the mouse and lose the house" or Osama will use money transfered to his Party account to fund blowing up more people.
Those really aren't huge obstacles, especially for our friends at Harrah's, as they have a long history of helping people overcome gambling addiciton (yeah, right) and they can easily get together with the banks and combat that whole money laundering thing (yeah, right). On paper, it's an easy sell. Especially when you start looking at alternatives to make up shortfalls in the budget or Social Security. People may, in theory, proclaim that online gambling is immoral and shouldn't be allowed, but they'll vote "Hell yes, legalize it" in a heartbeat if the alternative is that their property tax goes up $500/year or that a six-pack of Bud Lite will cost $10.
As far as poker itself, that genie is out of the bottle. Too many people play now for it to completely die off, even if US players can't play online for a few years. Existing sites will probably convert enough Asian players to keep the Euros happy, so things will continue to poke along (albeit at a much reduced level), until US players get back to the virtual tables.
So yeah. Doom and gloom in the short run, mucho poker fun in the long run. We all just have to find some way to occupy ourselves for the next few years, twiddling our thumbs.