A question that I am constantly asked by a wide variety of people and one that I am tired of answering is: Is internet poker legal? While I would agree that there is some confusion on this issue, there is nothing that I know of that makes playing internet poker illegal at this time. Many people who think it is illegal are simply uninformed.
Here is a direct quote from the US Poker Player Directory :
“The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 does not make it a crime for US residents to gamble online; American players are still free to gamble anywhere on the Internet, stated Rick Smith and Keith Furlong, who respectively are the Executive and Deputy Directors of the Interactive Gaming Council (IGC), in a press release this week.
The IGC is a leading trade association for the international interactive gambling industry with its membership operating or supplying services to most of the reputable interactive sites on the Internet.”
If this statement is true, then why all the hub-bub? Well, to make a long story short, US Congress in typical haphazard fashion, passed a law at the end of 2006 making it illegal to operate internet poker sites in the US. It also became illegal for banks to tranfer money to internet gaming sites. Clearly, the intent here was to go after the banks and the owners/operators of the sites, not the players themselves. No where does it clearly state that playing online poker is illegal. No where does it state that wagering on online poker is illegal.
If playing online poker was illegal, then wouldn’t playing fantasy football on ESPN’s web site be illegal as well? It still invloves wagering online, whether it is a fantasy team or a poker game. Moreover, horse racing is now claiming nearly 15% of its betting revenue from online wagers? Clearly, this ill-conceived law was not intended to imprison the weekend online poker player. Imagine, if you will, attempting to enforce such a law even if that was the intention! Impossible.
I for one, have gambled online continuously from the time prior to the passage of this bill to the present day. Aside from deposits becoming a little more difficult, there really has been no major interruption to the game, indeed, it has improved as time passes. Most sites are bigger and better than they were a few years ago. Recent reports put internet poker at a 15 BILLION dollar a year industry with over half of that amount coming from US players. Doesn’t sound like an illegal activity to me.
Clearly the demand is there for the internet game, and while some sites have abandoned US players (see PartyPoker.com) others have kept accepting US players and thrived. (See Bodog, Full Tilt, PokerStars, Doyles, Room, Sportsbook.com and PlayersOnly.com)
Various states have attempted to pass legislation banning internet poker at times, all of which to date, have failed miserably. The fact of the matter is, poker is more of a game of skill than luck anyway, so it probably doesn’t belong lumped in with other gaming activities in the first place.
No, internet poker is a phenomenon that is here to stay no matter the misguided attempts of ignorant legislators to say otherwise. If you are a player in the US, keep playing and keep supporting the sites that have supported us.
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