The Internet is about to change in a big way – the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has just accepted a proposal to allow a greater variety of top-level domain names, which means websites will be able to end in .anything. A .poker domain cannot be far off.

ICANN – a non-profit organization that manages the naming scheme for websites – had only allowed 21 top-level domains so far: .com, .net, .edu, .biz and the like.But that is about to change now with what they call “the biggest expansion to the internet in forty years.”

The new domains will have a hefty price to prevent web-squatting, and although prices have not been confirmed experts estimate prices will be somewhere between $50,000 – $100,000 for attractive domain names such as .partypoker, .pokerbonus or .pokerstrategy .

Dr. Paul Twomey, President and CEO of ICANN, is excited about the possibilities this will open, "The potential here is huge. It represents a whole new way for people to express themselves on the Net. It's a massive increase in the 'real estate' of the Internet." While trademark owners will have priority to purchase their names, more generic domains will be auctioned, which is expected to set new record prices for internet addresses (particularly for the much-debated .xxx domain.)

Some see this as a can of worms waiting to be opened, especially those with highly recognizable brand names who will now have to defensively purchase even more domains to keep safe from “cybersquatters.” John Mackenzie from law firm Pinsent Masons painted a grim panorama for big brands: “Each time a new TLD is introduced, large brands spend a fortune on defensive registrations to avoid the greater expense of recovering the names from cybersquatters further down the line. ICANN has just multiplied those costs. It's a brand owner's nightmare." ICANN promises stringent requisites for those applying for a domain: besides doling out a few hundreds of thousands, domain applicants will also have to prove they have the equipment, infrastructure and skill to maintain a stable domain on the Internet.

Now that this change has been approved, the ICANN must come up with procedures and regulations to assign the new names, which is they will not start to assign them before 2009. Are you ready for tightpoker.poker?

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