Internet poker shutdown hot topic at tables

Modesto BeeApril 19, 2011 

Millions of poker players have been going through withdrawals since U.S. authorities blocked access to online poker sites last weekend.

Poker room proponents hope Internet players will switch to live games in local card clubs, but that apparently hasn't happened yet in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.

"It's a little too early to see the consequences, but we're hoping more players will start coming in," said John Silveira, a manager at the Turlock Poker Room.

Silveira said most players at his card club also played online, so the Internet poker shutdown has been the hot topic at all the tables. Web sites for Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and Absolute Poker were taken over by federal authorities Friday. By Saturday morning, U.S. residents were banned from playing poker for money.

Law enforcement officials have accused 11 people of violating anti-gambling and money laundering laws. Restraining orders have been placed on more than 75 bank accounts that allegedly were used to process payments illegally.

Since 2006, U.S. regulations have forced American credit firms to block payments to and from offshore gambling operators. But poker sites had found ways around that ban, accommodating the millions of people determined to play online.

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