Online gambling ban will affect land-based play as well

It's not just the online gambling companies that could take a hit now that Congress has passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). Land-based casinos, which have profited from an increased interest in poker, may also be hurt by the legislation.

Two of Las Vegas' biggest gaming companies, Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. and MGM Mirage, have both invested heavily in the popularity of poker. Harrah's owns the World Series of Poker (WSOP) and MGM Mirage plays host to some of the World Poker Tour (WPT) events.

The WSOP and WPT have grown tremendously over the past few years because of online poker sites and have hosted some of the world's largest tournaments as a result. As many as half of the entrants in the 2006 WSOP Main Event qualified online through satellite tournaments to win the $10,000 buy-in. Similarly, the WPT attracts big money and players often qualify for events online as well.

Without the chance to win a seat at the tournaments online, the events are likely to attract less players because they would have to pay the buy-in themselves.

The loss of online gambling could also signal a decrease in live game players at the casino. Internet poker has become a training ground where people who love the game can learn to play and hone their game. Often those players then turn to Vegas and the poker tournaments for the real action.

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