You make some great points Phillip. In fact I think you are making of mine.
All I'm saying is that the application fee is one more obstacle that helps to keep the bots (or possible bots) out and keep the whole thing on the up and up. Making the permit non-transferable, requiring photo ID, valid physical address, require account with email confirmation, these are all obstacles that a human must overcome to complete the lottery application. How easy would it be to spam the lottery if all that was required was an email address?
I think like this because I work in IT and my company is attacked by people that do this kind of stuff almost every day. The fact that it's a government website would just make it worse. You bring up a good point about the gift cards. I'll ask the PCI guys tomorrow if we can tell the difference. I suspect not.
I agree with you to a point on the fee amounts but that's also basically what I'm saying, the fees are an obstacle that prevents spamming. I don't have hundreds of dollars laying around therefore fees discourage me from trying to apply multiple times. I have no idea how commercial permits work but would love to learn more so I might start a thread.
They supposedly release the permits at a random time within 24 hours of cancellation. This seems pretty fair and I see nothing wrong with people saying I'm about to cancel a permit. In fact I plan on doing so as my wife and I both have permits for the same day.
I have no idea where the fees go. I'm simply stating one of the effects that they have. I agree that they should go to pay for the system. I'm not exactly sure how the Deso works but if it's like 4 rivers wait for the cancellations to pop before giving up all hope. I also agree that there probably isn't a river runner out there trying to game the system but that's because it would be to hard to fake it all, including the fees. If it was easy, it would happen.
Lastly I could not agree more with your point that making river friends and being a good person to have on a trip is the best way to get on the river. So true.
Happy floating and good luck getting a cancellation.