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Emily D. Swoboda
 

Q & A: Anthony Sandstrom

7 August 2007

Anthony Sandstrom, who has been playing online poker from his home in San Diego, Calif., for about three years, is circulating a petition in California calling for a state government-owned online poker site.

Inspired by Swedish state-run poker site Svenska Spel, Sandstrom's proposal would benefit the people of California by allocating profits from the site to improving state roads and helping combat gambling addiction.

Sandstrom has until Dec. 24, 2007 to collect 433,971 signatures to qualify his initiative for placement on the ballot in the California primary elections scheduled for Feb. 5, 2008.

IGN sat down with Sandstrom to discuss the initiative, his take on the I-poker world in the wake of the U.S. prohibition and what (if any) resistance he's encountered so far.

IGN: You've been playing poker online for three years. How has your experience changed since the passage of the U.S. Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA)?

Sandstrom: There were two prominent effects. With the demise of Neteller it became somewhat difficult to get money on and off sites, and the existing methods that were left were much less reliable--they took a lot of time and often times didn't work at all. The alternative, which is getting people to move money around for you, is also somewhat risky. So, it's just very difficult to move money onto and off of sites anymore. That's the first fallout from that and that's, of course, precisely what they had in mind.

The second is that because people are having difficulty the only people that are really willing to go through all of the trouble to do it are what I would call professionals and semi-professionals. Therefore what's happening is basically the games are simply amongst people who are playing an awful lot of poker and do it very seriously. So, the games are much tougher and much tighter and it's just not near as much fun.

IGN: Is that why you took up this initiative?

Sandstrom: Well, I took it up for a couple of reasons, one of which was that the online scene was deteriorating and not favorable at all for recreational players, which is what I am. Second, most of these places (poker sites) are offshore and totally unregulated. Most of the big sites seem reasonably reliable, but there's always a question in your mind. So, my thought was that if this was in the United States and had oversight, people would be much more willing to play poker online and you'd just feel better about it if it was sanctioned by a federal or state authority.

IGN: How did you come to connect your proposal to improving California roads?

Sandstrom: Very simple. I was trying to find something that would catch people's attention. So, I was driving down the road one evening and I hit a pothole and a light bulb went on--that is something that would get folks' attention. A lot of the roads in the towns and cities of California are in miserable shape because the money keeps getting misappropriated. There is a big pothole that has been by my house for probably a year, but they won't allocate the money so the roads remain in bad shape.

IGN: Are you in this alone or do you have any support, organizational or otherwise?

Sandstrom: At this point I am all by myself. I have talked to people, but there is not a big, concentrated constituency.

IGN: You've met with some resistance from fellow poker players on the poker forums. What would you like to say to those who naysay your initiative?

Sandstrom: The people that have resistance are concentrated pretty much amongst the professional and semi-professional grinders--the people that play eight or 10 hours a day. They play relatively low limits; they play a dozen tables at a time and cherry-pick hands. My opinion of that is that I'd rather go to work. They don't like the provision for the sole reason that I put in a provision that says you can only play one table at a time. I did that specifically to keep those sorts of people from using the California site as a nice, easy way to make a living. It would be much better in the interest of the card room, the players and the politicians to not get themselves in the middle of it, if it was kept relatively free of professional people that just sit there and wait for the recreational people to show up.

IGN: How many signatures have you collected?

Sandstrom: I have collected hardly any at all. I've gotten a lot of interest and feedback, but very many petitions. I'm working on a press release and trying to get some mainstream coverage.

IGN: What is your day job?

Sandstrom: I'm an aerospace engineer/mechanical engineer. I work for a company here in town famous for putting the motor in Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne, the Ansari X-Prize winner of 2004. It was a prize of $10 million to the first private entity that went into space. We also build satellites, so that's what I'm working on right now.

Q & A: Anthony Sandstrom is republished from iGamingNews.com.
Emily D. Swoboda
Emily D. Swoboda