Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Whatever happened to...

...the future ban of male players entering the women's event at last year's World Series of Poker?

On June 11, 2010, WSOP Communications Director Seth Palansky was quoted by Card Player as saying, "We will have our repercussions against any man that entered the ladies tournament. There are consequences for actions, and they’ll pay the price." Also, "The good news is at the World Series of Poker, we have the right to refuse service to anyone at any time at any point that we deem, as operators of the event."

Note that the threat was phrased not as a possibility, but as a guarantee. It was not, "We may have our repercussions," but "We will have our repercussions," and not "they may pay the price," but "they'll pay the price."

This cannot reasonably be read as just an implication that those involved would suffer natural consequences of social disgrace or loss of reputation from the poker community. That would not fit the obvious implications of "We will have our repercussions," or of that bit about the right to refuse service.

So what, if anything, has the WSOP done to those male players? I sure haven't heard of anything. At the time it happened, I predicted that this would turn out to be a pure bluff:
Assuming, as would seem to be the case, that it is illegally discriminatory for a place of public accommodation to forbid men from entering the tournament, it must surely also be illegally discriminatory to refuse them equal access to public events in the future on the basis of their legitimate participation today.

Suppose that some racist restaurant owner didn't want to serve blacks, but wanted to get around the anti-discrimination laws. So he says, "I'll serve you today if you absolutely insist, but if you do, then I'm going to ban you from the premises forever, because I'm free to take or reject the business of anybody I want to."

How does that even make sense? If Harrah's doesn't have the legal right to refuse access to a public event on the basis of sex, then it can't possibly have the right to ban that person from future events on the grounds that he accepted the open invitation. I can't imagine how a court, if asked to decide the matter, could come to any conclusion other than the obvious: The future ban is just a different means of practicing the illegal discrimination. There can't be any logical distinction between "You can't play today because you're male," and "OK, you can play today, but if you do, then because you're male, we will never let you enter one of our tournaments again." The perverse consequence of that approach would be that a place of public accommodation could freely discriminate on the basis of sex or race for a person's entire lifetime, as long as they didn't do it this one time.

That's just too bizarre to take seriously. If they really try it, I'd love to be the attorney bringing the suit. Seems like a slam-dunk win for the plaintiffs to me.

I stand by that.

So, Mr. Palansky--what have you actually done in terms of making good on your threat from last year? If nothing, as I suspect, they why did you lie about the situation? And do you have any more empty threats you'd like to issue while you're at it?


BWoP said...

FYI, from the PokerNews coverage of the WSOP conference call today:

11:25 a.m. PDT: Is the WSOP doing anything to enforce women-only/seniors-only in their respective events? Answer: The Ladies Event is very special to those who play,but tournament staff can only do what the law allows them to do. Effel goes on record as saying he has no respect for any man who would play in an event that has such special meaning to the female participants.

Rakewell said...

Yeah, that's what brought it back to mind today and prompted the post. But obviously his comment doesn't answer the question about last year's threats.

Moviedogs said...

Here's what they've done for 2011... hidden the Ladies Event at the end of the WSOP during the July 4th weekend. Easy to lessen the controversy if no one notices the little ladies are a-playin'.