The fallout from the 2006 Internet Illegal Gambling Enforcement Act may take a toll on two of Las Vegas’ biggest gaming companies, Harah’s Entertainment and MGM Mirage. Each tapped into poker fans who liked to play internet games, and then headed to Las Vegas for real action.

When those gamblers try to log into their account, they will soon find they can no longer bet. Then tournament play will be suspended.

For nearly a decade, conservative members of Congress’ campaign to outlaw online gambling continued in Washington.

But as Republicans nervous about the Nov. 7 election and eager to find issues that would please conservative religious groups, Senate Majority Leader Bill Priest and other Republican leaders saw the opportunity to adopt the ban. They attached it to an unrelated port security bill and approved it in Congress Saturday.

Once a small, tight-knit group of sports gamblers, internet gamblers have grown into mainstream groups, mostly amateur gamblers, driven by ceaseless TV coverage of celebrity athletes and poker competitions. But in the eyes of the United States, they have joined the ranks of people who transport illegal drugs or sell unregistered firearms.

Online operators have largely ignored the Justice Department’s opinion that all forms of online gambling are illegal. They said online betting operators were a vulnerable legal position that was not supported by federal law and was largely unenforceable because they were based outside of the United States.

The bill makes gambling’s “grey zone” even clearer by making it a felony to deal with internet bets made by Americans.

British operator PartyGaming, which owns , said it would stop doing business in the U.S. by blocking U.S. bets. Other companies publicly traded in Europe could follow suit to recoup shares that have already plunged more than 50%.

That means players in the U.S. could soon gamble on black market websites and return to a time when unnamed sites were operating online in the Wild West.

A more likely outcome will be an increasingly creative cat-and-mouse game between remaining internet gambling sites and regulators who have the power to shut down websites and track third parties. This includes internet service providers connecting to gambling sites and affiliate sites that make money by commissioning businesses to internet casinos.

Nevada stakeholders have had no effect in fighting the bill. State regulators do not want to violate the federal government. Senator Harry Reid, the most powerful legislature in the state, opposes it because it cannot be properly regulated. Even Nevada casinos, where online gamblers have benefited from being teased for actual poker rooms, refused to visit mats under the anti-gambling law.

The American Game Association, which represents the largest land casinos, says the bill’s passage will not mean much to members who don’t gamble online.

This may be the case for most members who do not benefit much from poker. They may rather fill their rooms with more profitable slot machines.

But that’s probably not the case with MGM Mirage and Harrer Entertainment, the association’s two biggest members. The two companies host the world’s largest poker competition and have lobbied for regulating and taxing internet gambling.

About half of Hara’s newest World Series poker players qualify to buy $10,000 for the final event by playing a satellite tournament hosted by an online gambling site. Likewise, MGM Mirage is hosting some events online for a world poker tour that draws in big bucks from online bettors who qualify for the event. 릴게임

Both competitions are now likely to attract fewer participants.

The ban will have more impact in Las Vegas, a de facto hub that supports online betting companies and magazines, internet portals and other companies that have made money in line with the online poker and betting industry.

“It’s like death,” said Jan Fisher, a poker writer, tournament announcer, and partner at a company that produces cruise ship tours for online operator Party Poker. “Not only has this stopped people from playing games online, it’s literally touched everyone I know. I’m scared for the industry.”

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