It was strangely coincidental, but one of the last things I remember noticing during my perusal of Pinnacle's website in the late evening of January 10 was their side limits on the NFL's divisional round. $100,000 US. Not even up to gameday levels, yet.
Wake up the next morning, see a headline regarding Pinnacle's shedding its U. S. customer base, hie myself to Pinny, drag up the NFL screen, and read the revised limit.
$0.01 US . . . uh, well-below gameday levels, for certain.
Surely, one of the most sobering online sights since my abject staring at Aces Gold's homepage, After The Fall.
You remember Aces Gold. Generous with free buys on and off 3, in the NFL. Too. Good. To. Be. True (remember that).
Then came Super Bowl XXXVI . . . Patriots/Rams. Some people still can't hear "Patriots, +14 1/2", without cringing, because the phrase continues to represent so much pain, to so many. If St. Louis had blown the Pats out, time might have stood still, but they didn't, and neither did Charlie T. That Super became known as the "airplane game", as after the Pats won outright, Aces Gold management took off, and stifferoo, to you, and you.
When Pinnacle said, "Include me out" to the stateside market, Thursday morning, a repeat of the Aces Gold or BetOnSports fiascoes was feared by a few. But it quickly became apparent that though lines were long (online speculation had it that there were withdrawl requests numbered in the low six figures, in short order), balances were being returned apace, and panic in the bazaar was averted.
Any sustained anger from the players' side was derived from the fact that this all came to pass on triple-short notice - with NO advance warnings whatsoever. After exhaustive readings, can only speculate that factors relative to the residences of Pinnacle principle(s) might have been involved, as well as the conduct of stateside Pinnacle agents serving credit clientele - and what the Feds thought about all this. But sure as hell don't know for certain; thus far, those who know, aren't letting the broad unwashed in on any state secrets.
Even with Pinnacle seeking to exit with good grace, the near-term threat to the industry is a broad and deep run on the banks. There was what Wall Streeters call a "flight to quality" after Aces Gold, and following the apparent last word on the more-recent BetOnSports situation. Most well-known and substantial of the remaining white hats would seem to be (in alphabetical order, CRIS, The Greek/Bet Jamaica, and WSEX. Players will vote with their wallets, and would expect an influx of cash to be headed their (and a few others') way.
This is anything but good news for the broad range of second-and-third-tier books who do not enjoy the accumulated positive reputations and goodwill of the established Good Guys who have made a habit of doing things right. Customers are jumpy, their nerves are a'janglin', and those who know the difference between the established firms and utter fly-by-nighters may be gamblers - but there are some risks that are absurd to tolerate, so long as they can be avoided. Who REALLY wants to risk being stiffed, when there are a respectable number of known entities of positive reputation, out there? This can devolve into a self-fulfilling prophesy of sorts, which may be VERY bad news for some of the bottom-feeders whose primary hopes for funding lay in dangling bonus arrangements which are hysterically unsound . . . and though there are a number of established alternatives, can the exit of publicly-held Neteller and its conveniences be very far behind?
On some message boards, there are pockets of doleful souls who are MOST uncomfortable with the timing of all this, with only seven legitimate games remaining in the current NFL season. A respectable percentage of those for whom basketball is a dalliance rather than a dedication may move to the sidelines, for the spring and summer - or fulfill the primary unspoken legacy of the Frist legislation, i. e. further enrichment of the illegal street bookie and his friends. I've trumpeted the Prohibition echoes, and their logical end results for years, and away we go. If Bill Frist and friends wanted to directly enrich stateside organized crime, they couldn't have done a more exacting job. This time, thousands of customers further educated by dealings with on-liners will be actively seeking out locals, and no one can pretend to be shocked.
Miss those drop-down boxes . . . and the fairest futures in the history of the planet, already. Others may still enjoy them, but what's in store for statesiders is anyone's guess.
1-12-07 Nelson Lardner MajorWager.com firstname.lastname@example.org