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  • Will WSOP and WPT Suffer From HR-4411?

    Friday, October 6th, 2006 by Mike

The Las Vegas Sun newspaper says that the loss of Internet qualified players could have a serious impact on the competitive value and popularity of major land tournaments that take place at major land gambling establishments like Harrah’s and MGM Mirage.
 
In an article titled “Congress Deals Poker Fans a Hand They Can’t Bet” the LVS reports that for nearly a decade, the campaign by conservative members of Congress to outlaw online gambling remained on the fringes in Washington. But with Republican lawmakers nervous about the November 7 elections and eager to find issues that will please conservative religious groups, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and other Republican leaders saw an opportunity to adopt the ban. They attached it to an unrelated port security bill, which was approved by Congress early on Saturday.
 
Internet gamblers, attracted by celebrity players and incessant television coverage of poker tournaments, have grown into a largely mainstream group of amateur bettors. But in the eyes of the U.S, they have joined the ranks of people who transport illegal drugs or sell unregistered firearms, opines the Sun.
 
If the financial ban is effective and major offshore companies start turning American players away, those players could soon be gambling on black market Web sites and reverting to a time when no-name sites operated in an online Wild West of sorts, the article remarks.
 
A more likely outcome will be an increasingly creative cat-and-mouse game between the remaining Internet gambling sites and enforcement or financial officials who could have the authority to shut down Web sites and go after third parties. Those include Internet service providers that link to gambling sites and a growing number of affiliate sites that make money from referring business to Internet casinos.
 
The Las Vegas Sun reports that Nevada interests have been ineffective in fighting the legislation. State regulators don’t want to run afoul of the feds. The state’s most powerful legislator, Sen. Harry Reid, opposes Internet gambling on the basis that it can’t be adequately regulated. Even Nevada casinos, which have reaped the benefits when online gamblers are teased to real poker rooms, weren’t willing to go to the mat on a prohibition bill.
 
And the American Gaming Association, which represents the largest land-based casinos, says the bill’s passage won’t mean much for its members, which aren’t in the business of online gambling. But that’s probably not the case for the association’s two biggest members, MGM Mirage and Harrah’s Entertainment. Both companies host the world’s largest poker tournaments and have lobbied for regulating and taxing Internet gambling.
 
The newspaper reveals that as many as half of the entrants in Harrah’s latest World Series of Poker qualified for their $10 000 buy in to the final event by playing satellite tournaments hosted by online gambling sites. Similarly, MGM Mirage hosts some events for the World Poker Tour, a global poker tourney that attracts big money from online bettors who qualified for the events online.
 
Both tournaments will likely now attract fewer entrants.

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