Online Poker Legal Status in the USA

February 17, 2010 :: Posted by - admin :: Category - Poker News

Online Poker Legal Status

Online poker legal status is a major concern for online poker operators and players in the USA. The answer to online poker legality issue is not a clear cut ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

[caption id="attachment_1022" align="aligncenter" width="368" caption="Online Poker Legality"]Online Poker Legality[/caption]

The UIGEA bill of 2006 basically prohibits the transfer of funds from a financial institution to an Internet gambling site. As the bill passes fully into law this June, the Justice Department’s (DOJ) fight against all online poker sites, which they deem illegal, will receive a further boost as they attempt to dry up the money supply to these poker operations.

Today online poker legality is the subject of many debates. Online poker has grown into a hugely popular and lucrative national pastime in the last decade and more and more people play online poker games.

Last year the global online poker market grew by 24% to $4.8 billion. Now the bet is on whether or not Justice is gearing up to go directly after firms like DoylesRoom and the two biggest online poker sites still taking U.S. play: PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker.

Together they account for maybe 70% of the $1.4 billion in revenue the U.S. industry brought in last year. Revenues here are known as the rake – the slice of the betting amount that online firms get for hosting games. Players who play online poker games also pay flat fees to enter tournaments. So the question on many people’s lips who play online poker games is: “Is online poker legal?

Is Online Poker Legal?

PokerStars, situated on the Isle of Man, claims it has legal opinions from five U.S. law firms saying it is not violating any online poker laws. The company has an estimated $1.4 billion of annual global revenue and some $500 million in profit. People close to the company say a primary owner of PokerStars, Isai Scheinberg, like many online gaming entrepreneurs, never enters the U.S., apparently spending much of his time in Canada.

Full Tilt, which generates some $100 million in profits on $500 million in annual revenue, did not respond to requests for comment on online poker legality. It has deep roots in the U.S. and close connections to famous American poker players who can be found in Las Vegas regularly. Chief among them are Howard Lederer, known by his fans as the Professor, and Christopher Ferguson, a poker champion who likes to wear black cowboy hats and is nicknamed Jesus.

Poker lobbyists are ramping up an aggressive push backed by millions of dollars to legalize online poker in the United States this year, hoping to overcome passionate objections from social conservatives, sports leagues and other longtime opponents.

Those in favor of online poker legality are hoping with Congress in the hands of Democrats, who have historically been less opposed to gambling than Republicans, along with the growing popularity of recreational poker, that will work to their advantage to make online poker legal.

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