Chris Moneymaker turned his $40 investment in an online game into $2.5 million. He won the 2003 world series of poker.
Dan Goldman, marketing director for the online site PokerStars said, "Right before Chris Moneymaker won the series we were going like this," indicating a slow steady upward trend with his hand. "Then, all of a sudden we're going like this (shooting his hand straight up). It's still growing, it's just not growing at nearly that dramatic a level."
This year, the House of Representatives passed a bill that clearly states that Internet gambling is a federal crime and punishable by law, but it stalled in the Senate. The Department of Justice defined that those who play online poker for money are violating the law.
Goldman estimated that about 15 million Americans play online poker and the game is spreading quickly worldwide.
John Caldwell, editor and chief of Pokernews.com exclaimed, "It's absolutely enormous. Partypoker (the largest site, based in Gibraltar), at last look, was something like a 7.5 billion pound sterling company; that's about $11 billion. The growth is great. The growth is really starting to go crazy outside the U.S."
The spread of online gambling concerns younger players. "Kids perceive (poker) as a game of skill, they don't see it as gambling," said Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling. "They think it's like a Nintendo game, where the more I play the better I can get at poker. That's true to some extent, but the main determinant is still chance.
The main thing we're concerned about is lack of messaging on the sites like (beer companies) do with drinking. We don't see pros doing public service announcements about only betting what you can afford. We don't see warnings about not drinking and gambling. We don't see 800 numbers you can call for help," Whyte said.
Moneymaker was among those who see poker as a game of skill, and is very vocal in defending the game. For him, poker game is not corrupting by nature. "Other forms of gambling maybe. Poker is a game of skill. It's a fact, 95 percent of the people who play are going to lose. But it's not going to be your addicted gamblers who are losing online. Your addicted gamblers want to play blackjack online. They want to play sports games online. They want that quick high."
September 26, 2006