t wasn't long ago that online poker took the world by storm. Millions of users signed up to play anonymously at home on the multitude of sites that popped up. Then lightning struck in 2003, when Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker main event after qualifying online. The poker boom was on.
But the glory days were short-lived for those looking to play (semi)legally. Congress passed a law in 2006 making it illegal to transfer money to gaming sites, and many sites left the United States. PartyGaming lost more than half of its value in a single day, and the online poker world wasn't the same.
But now a bill is slowly moving its way through Congress that would regulate and likely tax online gambling, including poker. This could be a huge win, not only for online poker sites but for big casino operators. Las Vegas Sands already flirted with the idea of opening an online casino in 2006. MGM Resorts, Wynn and Harrah's wouldn't be far behind if regulations are approved.
Bricks-and-mortar casinos could offer incentives an online store can only dream of. Night stays for play, VIP club passes, show tickets - plus everything an online shop could offer. Incentives could even be modified to boost slow traffic dates or fill venues.
It could be a meaningful impact on casino giants and it could rival Asia as a growth opportunity. PartyGaming had us$ 977.7 million in revenue and us$ 620.2 million in operating cash flow in 2005, the last full year it was in operation in the U.S.