American Poker Players and the New Law

June 06, 2010 :: Posted by - admin :: Category - Q&A Forum

Following the unexpected passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act 2006 (UIGEA) last October, and the subsequent arrests of two founders of Neteller, the online payments processor, in January 2007, the online gaming world has been in a bit of a tailspin.

So what actually happened? What does it all mean? Firstly, and most importantly, this new law does not make playing poker online illegal. Some states, most notably Washington state, have individual laws regulating online gambling, and we are not discussing those state laws here. In relation to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, it is simply a measure to restrict the transfer of money by banks to online gaming sites. Got that? It restricts banks from transferring funds to online gaming businesses. It does not in any way make playing poker illegal or make poker players criminals.

In reality though it’s not that simple. After the UIGEA was passed, some poker rooms left the US market, such as Party Poker, and some stayed, such as Poker Stars. Some payment processors also left the US market, such as FirePay, and some stayed, such as Neteller. So things weren’t that much different for American poker players.

Unfortunately, when the feds arrested two Neteller founders last January, everything changed. Neteller left – ran out of – the American market. Closely followed by the all the other big name processors, such as Citadel and Click2Pay. Even though those arrests were not under the new law, the UIGEA, but were in fact under the much older Wire Act of 1961. And those arrests were not related to online poker, they were sports betting related.

Strange, but true. So, it is still not illegal for American poker players to play poker over the internet. But just try funding your poker account. This is a bizarre situation when viewed from a non-American point of view. There can be no game more quintessentially American than Poker. It is the American game. Americans made it what it is; Americans made it as popular as it is; Americans love it.

So what’s going to happen now? The short answer is – no one knows. However, what is known is that as many as thirty million Americans have played poker online; up to thirteen million Americans play poker online regularly. There may not be many deposit options available at the moment, but it is fairly certain that new methods will become available soon. There are just too many Americans that want to play online poker and many of them will find a way. And with the amount of money at stake, there will be plenty of businesses that will help them to find it.

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