MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
NPR's Mike Pesca has the story.
MIKE PESCA: Shawn Lindstrom is like a lot of online poker players. He's used to assessing risk. And in the case of his favorite hobby, he didn't think there was much of one.
SHAWN LINSTROM: My self-conception was that my online poker playing was legal.
PESCA: Jospeh Kelly, a professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo and the co-editor of Gaming Law Review, says there's a decent case that these players really didn't break the law.
JOSEPH KELLY: It's uncertain whether these laws actually prohibit online poker. The Justice Department says it does.
PESCA: Rather, poker site operators and bankers who facilitated transactions were charged, but that still leaves guys like Russell Fox out of luck.
RUSSELL FOX: I consider it a part-time job. You know, I consider it secondary income.
PESCA: It is a joke, he says, that real-life poker is legal in some states and treated as the devil's downtime in others. A joke that websites have to put their headquarters in Costa Rica and the Isle of Mann to serve guys from Fresh Meadows, Queens, and a joke to think that online players will be denied.
FOX: They went after the big three to make a point. You know, but meanwhile, I can name 25 other poker websites that's still up and running.
PESCA: Mark Anderson plays online and lives in Los Angeles.
MARK ANDERSON: If you go to those online forums, the different poker forums, they're all talking about moving. And they're serious. You know, because they'd much rather move to try to find a way to move to Canada and play up there, where it's completely legal.
PESCA: Mike Pesca, NPR News, New York.