|It was a slap in the face for US regulators when Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker, after qualifying via an Internet Poker tournament. Not only had Moneymaker never played in a land-based poker tournament before, but Internet gambling is such a legal hot potato in the US. A bill was passed to outlaw credit card payments to Internet casinos in the US House of Representatives two weeks ago.|
However, Moneymaker’s win has upped the profile of online poker sites such as PokerStars.com, which sent Moneymaker and 36 other players to the World Series of Poker at Binions Horseshoe casino in Las Vegas. Business has boomed for PokerStars.com, with weekly tournament players up to more than 550 from to since Moneymaker’s win, said Dan Goldman, PokerStars.com’s vice president of marketing.
'Clearly people have been inspired by Chris' win and are using online poker ... to add to their tournament experience so perhaps they can duplicate Chris' feat,' he said.
Goldman says US legislators should treat online poker differently to games of chance like slot machines in which skill is less a factor.
'Players that play on online poker sites are not playing against the house. The house is hosting the game and making sure it's fair and honest,' he said. 'We don't care whether the player wins or loses as long as they have a fair opportunity to play.'
But an outright ban on Internet gambling is looking more likely after several attempts in Washington, and Moneymaker's win has given Nevada regulators food for thought. Next year it will be interesting to see if a player such as Moneymaker will be allowed to compete.
'We obviously don't like it,' said Keith Copher, chief of enforcement for the Nevada Gaming Control Board. 'It's an interesting concept that we're really going to have to research and see whether we're going to allow it to happen in the future.'