Graig Mantle

Cal Poly students who recently tried to get a little action online were rejected en masse. The Web sites in question weren’t MySpace or facebook. The usual suspects were replaced by partypoker.com, pokerroom.com and fulltiltpoker.net.

The reason for the denial was the recent passage of the Security and Accountability For Every Port Act of 2006, which was signed into law by President Bush on Oct. 23, 2006.

The SAFE Port act is designed to be a bastion of the war on terror. Rep. Dan Lungren (R) and Rep. Jane Harman (D), both of California, authored the act. (Harman is the wife of Sidney Harman, for whom the hall in Cal Poly’s Performing Arts Center is named.) Harman represents California’s 36th Congressional District in Southern California.

Lungren represents California’s 3rd Congressional District, near Sacramento.

Contained in the SAFE Port Act are also certain provisions known as the Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. The act, which falls under Title VII of SAFE Port, is sponsored by Rep. James Leach (R-IA).

The act makes it nearly impossible for online casinos to process payments from U.S. customers, rendering it impossible for customers to participate in real money games.

Those who already have money left on sites will be able to access it until the funds are exhausted.

It is estimated that 1.6 million college students (overwhelmingly male) engage in online poker. With the new restrictions and the aforementioned numbers, the change is bound to affect many on the Cal Poly campus.

One such individual is biomedical engineering senior Steve Coggins. Coggins, an avid online player, is disappointed in the latest measure.

“(The laws) are excessive. I just don’t see how it relates to anything.I think it’s hurting a lot of people’s incomes, particularly college students,” said Coggins.

The ban is expected to wreak financial havoc on the World Series of Poker, the premier tournament in poker.

The WSOP has seen record growth the past three years due to the influx of online contestants and the recent success of non-professionals.

All the major sites allow players to win seats at the WSOP via online satellite tournaments.

In turn, the winners usually wear apparel bearing the name of the site from which they came. The amateurs get to sit with the sharks, while the sites get free advertising in the form of a living, breathing billboard.

This year alone, over 1,600 players entered the WSOP via online satellites. At $10,000 a seat, this year’s tournament figures to be the richest, and stay the richest, WSOP in history, with an estimated loss of $16 million in revenue for 2007.

Another factor for the ban is the role of major casinos. Once upon a time, one had to travel to Las Vegas or Atlantic City for a high stakes game. Online poker changed all that. For example, pokerroom.com has regular no-limit games that run as high as $100 and $200 blinds, and some beyond that depending on the amount of players.

“I think (the law) obviously something that was pushed through by the casino lobbies.it won’t affect me, but it’s gonna hurt the WSOP,” said construction management senior Ross Fenton.

With an estimated $6 billion wagered by Americans online in 2005, it is easy to see why casinos would support such legislation.

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