Behind the Bets: UIGEA and the future

Online poker and other gaming hang in the balance starting Dec. 1

Originally Published: November 11, 2009
By Chad Millman | ESPN The Magazine
Getty ImagesWill this anonymous man be able to do this in the future? We'll see.

Now that the World Series of Poker is over (nice work, Joe), it's time to talk about serious money -- the kind that makes the $8.5 million Cada walked away with for winning the main event look like an opening hand's small blind.

On Dec. 1, the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) is scheduled to go into effect; UIGEA is designed to prevent Web companies that offer games such as online poker from operating in the United States. Beginning next month, deposits made into accounts with these companies can be blocked. Already U.S. attorneys for the Southern District of Manhattan have seized tens of millions of dollars in payouts to players from third-party payment services that represented leading poker companies.

While the poker sites quickly paid customers back, "It's very difficult to predict what the law will do to online poker," says John Pappas, head of the million-member-strong Poker Players Alliance, which has been lobbying to have the UIGEA overturned. "But it will certainly create some kind of disturbance."