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2007 WSOP Participants Could Substantially Decrease

Many think that the recently passed US law that seeks to ban most forms of online gambling could drastically affect the number of participants in the world's richest game, the world series of poker.

The series, run by gaming giant Harrah's Entertainment Inc., saw its largest crowd ever in 2006, with more than 8,000 entrants to the Main EVent alone. Hard to believe that only three years ago in 2003, only 839 participants took part.

This year, the players vied for a slice of the $82.5 million prize pool, more than half of which are said to be online qualifiers, or those who got in by playing online.

With the new law prohibiting banks from handling internet gambling-related transactions, it is feared that the number of participants for next year's WSOP will die down.

"It's going to affect the average player most dramatically. And those players are the ones that have kind of filled the ranks," said Michael Bolcerek, president of the poker Players Alliance. The PPA vehemently fought against the legislation.

"The hardcore ones will find somewhere, they won't care whether it's regulated," Bolcerek said. "That's what a prohibition does. It drives everything underground."

"I wouldn't say it would put poker in a death spiral but in the long run it will hurt the growth of poker," said world poker tour host Mike Sexton. "The World Series of Poker is going to be devastated over this."

Some however, remain hopeful.

"In 2005 and 2006 we had record fields each year. We're confident again that 2007 will be the best one ever," tournament spokesman Gary Thompson said.


11/09/2006, Thursday
Sherry Barlow

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