Will online poker return to the United States? The question is not will it return, but when and where? In 2003 amateur Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker and started the explosion of online poker. In 2006 George W. Bush signed into law the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). This did not make it illegal to gamble online, it made it illegal for poker or gambling websites to process transactions through financial institutions.
On April 15 2011, the day that has become known to the poker community as Black Friday, the owners of Full Tilt Poker, Poker Stars and Absolute Poker were indicted for violating the UIGEA. All but a few small sites stopped offering internet poker to Americans poker online.
Poker is not a game of chance. Although there is luck involved, there is also a significant amount of skill involved. Decisions must be made based on the information at hand, and thus winning a hand of poker is based on skill and luck combined. This is the basis of the argument that poker should not be included with games of chance.
Recently, the Department of Justice seems to agree. The have stated the Interstate Wire Act of 1961 does NOT include poker and only refers to sports betting. This gives states the right to legalize a wide range of games for the internet without violating the wire act.
Nevada regulators have adopted a set of poker rules and accepted accepting applications for intrastate online poker. Nevada will oversee an intrastate system that will allow it’s residents and visitors to play online poker.
Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-Texas) mission is consumer protection. His bill, the Internet Gambling Prohibition, the Consumer Consumer Poker, and the UIGEA Act of 2011 (H.R. 2366) will create an interstate licensing program for online poker sites. States that don’t want to participate can opt out. Although other attempts at legislation have failed Barton’s bill has bi-partison support.
The Poker Players Alliance has been fighting for Americans right to play poker and encourages anyone who agrees to let their elected officials know.
The black out of internet poker has been viewed by many Americans as a loss of freedom that has been compared to prohibition. The good news is it has allowed lawmakers to adopt policies which will regulate online poker. Lawmakers are working hard to hammer out legislation that will protect Americans from cheating and theft. Once we get through all of this it will be nice to know that I can legally sign on to the site of my choice and know that I am playing a fair game and that my funds are protected
Angela Morrell maintains a blog that can give you the poker edge.