GIGSE is an event for operators and really has nothing for affiliates, unless you want to try to ake deals with the big boys =0)
Amsterdam is almost a done deal... in fact, I will be very surprised if it survives after this year. It was the flagship event for many years, but a few management mistakes, waning reputation, and competition form iGB will most likely kill it after 2010.
Budapest is the next big event, and I would highly recommend the conference if you have the means.
If you cannot yet travel overseas, Vegas in the late fall will be your best option. The GPWA / APCW normally piggyback a very small affiliate get together on the back of the G2E event.
As far as covering your backsides, just be certain that if "gambling laws" do not apply that you also have a lawyer advise you on SWEEPSTAKES laws. And remember that these laws vary GREATLY from state to state and into Canada, so I would actually write the Gaming Commissions in at least a few states to make sure they are cool with your site. I would contact Washington, New York, and Louisiana at a minimum. Just because something isn't "illegal" doesn't mean they can't make your life a living HELL if they want to, so if they give you any trouble at all I would just BLOCK their state outright.
And one more thing: If you get a "Cease and Desist" from any state, COMPLY IMMEDIATELY. Then, after you comply, if you wanna fight them in court go for it! But do comply or you may get a visit... and you do NOT want to fight a gambling commission. They consider themselves above the law... and in some states they are. Most times they are bored and have nothing to do but ruin lives. I say all this not to scare you, but do check out the links below about what happened in my state, Washington:
We're in Cleveland Ohio. The research I've done has been basically how old you have to be to play in an online poker room. Since it's 21 to play, I thought that covered us for colleges. I did some research on a state-by-state basis - basically how high the buy ins can be and still be legally allowed and considered as a charitable endeavor. Texas put a limit of $25 on any online gaming buy in saying if it cost more than that to play, you should just donate the amount to the charity. So we were keeping that as our max buy in. We were hoping to get a little more feedback and guidance from our affiliate managers once we're approved by a few rooms - and then go with the room that's the most helpful.
Wow, am I missing something big here with the legal issues and colleges? My brother went to Vanderbilt in TN and his roommates played almost every weekend. There's also an organization in downtown Cleveland along the water where for about 250 days out of the year they run physical Texas Holdem tournaments. The dealers are all volunteers and the organizations they're representing gets a cut of what's brought in that night. Most of the time, by signing up for 2 days the organization will earn $10,000. They accept schools, nonprofits, churches, you name it. The group that runs this is owned by Dick Jacobs. Since they're able to do it, I kind of figured us doing the same thing online wouldn't pose a problem.
Thanks for the very clean and professional comment - I'm excited you like our concept. um....if you need any online scratch cards for your new poker project, please give a shout out. We do all the animation and programming ourselves and would love to help - I'm sure whatever project you're working on is going to be pretty spectacular ;)
If you have a sec, let me know what you meant about our butts being covered. I thought I was, but now I'm not sure!!!
The site looks very clean and professional. I like the concept... we, too, are in beta phase for a poker project so I understand the frustrations. Where are you based? Have you done all your homework on any legal issues with poker tourneys focused on colleges? We had some similar issues and I want to make sure your butts are covered...
I've not heard anything on the Democratic candidates support of opposition to our industry so far. But it is my belief that the Presidential election will have very little impact for online gambling.
My persoanl opinion is that the problem is so much deeper, and it's woven into the corporate special interest monies that run our Congress. Until we fix that issue, these greedy bastards will continue to ruin innocent lives.