|Industry commentators have warned that the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) could seriously reduce the number of entrants for future World Series of Poker events, due to the event’s high volume of online qualifiers.|
The event, run by Harrah’s Entertainment, has seen a significant rise in participants since 2003 when 839 players took part to compete for a $2.5 million first prize. This year’s event saw a staggering 8,773 people playing for a share of an $82 million prize pool, with more than half estimated to have qualified via online satellites.
However with the enforcement of the UIGEA, the number of online qualifiers is expected to fall making any advance on 2006’s WSOP attendance figures extremely difficult.
Michael Bolcerek, President of the Poker Players Alliance said, 'It's going to affect the average player most dramatically, and those players are the ones that have kind of filled the ranks.'
Mike Sexton, who hosts the popular World Poker Tour on the Travel Channel, added, 'I wouldn't say it (UIGEA) would put poker in a death spiral but in the long run it will hurt the growth of poker,' Sexton said. 'The World Series of Poker is going to be devastated over this.'
The number of WSOP poker tables in Las Vegas surged from 142 in 2003 to 405 in 2006.