Online Poker Legal Issues

  • Added:
    May 23, 2013
  • Article Views:
  • Word Count:
Online Poker Legal Issues Photo by Joe Pav

Over the years, poker became extremely popular at the casinos all over the world. With the advent of computers and internet, many more people have started playing various forms of online poker at the best casino sites. The Worlds Series of Poker’s uncomfortable relationship with online gambling emerged in 2003; when an accountant who is qualified through an online tournament went on to win the main event, making online poker more popular than ever before. At that point in time, advertising of online poker sites on television exploded and the Justice Department stepped in. In June of 2003 the Justice Department warned the National Association of Broadcasters that any person or entity that aids or abets online betting is punishable as a principal violator.

About half of the 9000 players in the Worlds Series of Poker’s main event qualified through an online satellite tournament. However the tournament commissioner said that the online tournaments didn’t put a player into the World Series, it was the $10,000 cash for a seat at the table. 

The televised Worlds Series of Poker tournament was delayed for several minutes the first day because anyone wearing a dot-com poker logo would not be allowed to play. There were about a thousand players that flipped shirts inside out and workers that covered the dot-com symbols with black tape. 
The house bill in congress would ban Internet gambling except fore horse race betting and state lotteries. It is an attempt to close a loophole in the 1961 Wire Act, meant to crack down on racketeering. The Wire Act forbids business from using a wire communication facility to assist in placing bets on any sporting event or contest. However, according to a federal appeals court in New Orleans, the law does not cover other types of casino betting which leaves some doubt on whether prosecutors can shut down Internet poker and other casino games. With or without a new law from Congress, the Justice Department interprets all online gambling to be illegal. Other countries allow it, so online companies set up operations outside the United States with easy access to U.S. players on their computers. 
The online poker advocates say that the Justice Department’s enforcement practices have focused on operators of online sports gambling sites, not sites that offer only poker. It would be hard to arrest the poker site operators in Costa Rica, Aruba, and other offshore operations, but many argue that poker tournaments online technically are not gambling. The argument is you get a prize for the competition. Also, prosecuting a business for promoting a dot-net site that does not have direct web links to its dot-com cousin makes for difficult legal work in court. 

Online poker players have joined a group called the Poker Players Alliance to lobby Congress to stop the Internet gambling bill from passing in the Senate. Since the House passed bill in July, alliance membership has more than doubled to 75,000. If the bill passes, it would drive the business of poker underground, but for now it remains in the open.

Author's Profile

About the Author by Joe Pav is recognized as the authority on offshore casinos having served the betting community since 1999. Please consider this article for publication in your newsletter or on your website. Permission is granted to reprint for free with resource box and byline intact.

Please Rate this Article
Poor Excellent