ON-AIR: Poker enthusiasts react to online gambling ban

By Dan Howell

On Friday, President Bush signed into law the SAFE Port Act which hopes to protect U.S. ports from September 11th-style attacks. The provision known as “The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006”, attached to the bill, is what has many poker enthusiasts up in arms.

The bill makes it illegal for banks and credit card companies to process transfers to or from a gambling site. The Poker Players Alliance is a group dedicated to protecting the game of poker in the face of Federal Legislation.

Poker Players Alliance president Michael Bolcerek says that since the bill was attached to one for Homeland Security both Houses and the President were more likely to pass it.

“I can’t imagine that with a stroke of a pen the President is trying to take away a source of entertainment for 23 million Americans”

Sites like PartyPoker.com have already cancelled American player’s real money accounts. But Bolcerek says other sites, like PokerStars.com and Bodog.com, are staying open and challenging the bill, saying that it only covers games of chance and they believe poker is a game of skill.

“Each site makes their own decision relative to the legality of online poker. I think in 270 days, when the actual enforcement provisions are outlined, they’ll need to make a different decision.”

Since the bill gives exemptions to online horse racing, online betting on state lotteries and fantasy sports betting, Bolcerek feels a new bill should be authored for licensing, regulating and taxing the online poker game. Until then, the new bill could make a large dent in the 12 billion dollar a year industry.