On Friday, Congress passed the Port Security Act, a rider on that piece of legislation was the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Bill. Basically, the bill is designed to stop all Internet gambling by Americans that isn't a lottery, horce racing or fantasy sports. It does so by making it illegal for banks, credit card companies and online payment processing places to do any business with online gambling sites. As bad as this sounds, I didn't believe it was time to panic. Written into the law is a 270 day period in which the regulations will be set forth for the banks and credit card companies to abide by.
The text of the law is here (with the text of the law starting on page 213).
Unfortunately, last night, it was rumored the parent company of Pacific Poker was going to announce that they were pulling out of the US market immediately. The parent company of Pacific Poker is a publicly traded company in London, as is Party Gaming which controls (I believe) the world's largest cardroom (Party Poker). Now we've found out that Party Poker is pulling out of the US as soon as the law is signed by the President (which will be sometime this week most likely). Pokerstars, another huge online site, is rumored to be doing the same, but no formal announcement has been made.
I'm amazed at how quickly this is all happening. It could very well be that by the end of the week US players will not be allowed to play poker on the two biggest online sites. I'm not worried about being able to withdraw my money from these sites, although probably the initial rush will cause things to be very slow - And I have personally been trying to keep my balances on the online sites small.
At this point we still have to wait and see what happens. Maybe some of the large sites will stay open to US customers like Full Tilt, Ultimate Bet, Bodog, etc. And maybe there will be some legal workaround to the funding problem on the sites. Also, the legality of the legislation could be challenged...
I'm on my way to Atlantic City today (Monday) for the US Poker Champs which start at the Taj Mahal on Tuesday. Boy would it be nice to put a large check in the bank with all this happening...we'll see!