THE CAPITAL TIMES
by Ben Popper
Correspondent for The Capital Times
The stakes aren’t particularly high at Tuesday night’s Intramural Texas Hold ‘em tournament at the SERF on West Dayton Street, where 25 players are competing for a grand prize of one T-shirt and the pleasure of a skilled game.
Among these college students, however, the practice of competing for hundreds — even thousands — of dollars at online gambling sites is common, and despite recent legislation, these young people say they aren’t about to stop.
The federal government took broad steps recently to put a damper on the $6 billion that Americans wager online annually. While online gambling sites already had to be based outside the U.S., the new law prohibits the use of credit cards, checks and electronic fund transfers from U.S. banks to place and settle online bets. For the poker crowd at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, though, the reaction is one of bemused annoyance.
“They couldn’t stop kids from downloading music or movies. What makes you think this is going to be any more effective?” said Drew Pyatskowit, a UW junior.
Gambler strategy: Head straight for law’s loopholes
UW-Madison sophomore Louis Lai plays Texas Hold ‘em at the SERF.
Going around the ban
Many of the students say they have already found ways around the ban by employing online programs and credit institutions that circumvent the new law.
“The ban is a big deal, but I’ve heard you can use programs like FirePay to get around it,” said Kurt Peter, a freshman from the Milwaukee area, who estimates he gambles online up to seven hours a week. FirePay, along with services such as NETELLER and Moneybookers, offer gamers Internet accounts through which they can fund their online gambling.