Online Poker Laws US Players

USA Legal FlagIf your an avid poker player and live within the United States, you’ll have seen how increasingly difficult it is for the US poker player to find a reputable poker room. It’s equally frustrating when you have to search for a reputable site and a legal poker site that accepts US players. When the UIGEA was passed in 2006 newspapers and media outlets were misinforming players because they didn’t have a solid grasp on what the UIGEA was or how it impacted poker players from the United States. Although some would like to think it’s illegal to play poker online, it’s not and there are plenty of legal poker sites for US poker players available.

Reputable online gambling licensing and regulation bodies only grant certificates to the poker room whose operations are totally legal. These poker rooms define themselves by excellent software, fair play, security, and high payout percentages. It is never easy for poker operators to acquire licenses for their online operations, and it gets even more complicated with US operators due to the country's Internet gambling laws. All the same, legality of a poker site is still important for a player who wants to play real money games.

In the US, the legal landscape gets very complicated when it comes to dealing with online casino operators and online gamblers. Some states have legalized online gambling while others continue to turn their back on the industry. The reasons behind the actions of these states are many and different, but the US market still remains the biggest market in the entire industry. And this means operators and other stakeholders are not going to stop keeping a close eye on this market any time soon.

The History of Online Poker & Gambling Laws in the US

The most remembered beginning of laws against Internet gambling in the US was back in 1961, when the Wire Act was passed. This new law prohibited interstate betting. Years passed and by 2006, the country had all but forgotten the impact of the Wire Act. Only 20% of US players still thought of gambling on the Internet as illegal. This drew attention to the fact that the Act was very unclear as to whether every gambling activity was included or not.

In November 2002, the 1961 Wire Act became clearer when the United States Court of Appeal directed that it only prohibited the electronic transmission of information regarding sports betting. Online gambling was not affected. Unsurprisingly, the Federal Department of Justice continues to insist the Act prohibits every type of gambling. It has even prohibited advertising companies from creating adverts that are connected to online gambling. They clearly overlook the First Amendment Act that protects the advertisement companies.

Later in 2006, the notorious UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) was passed by the senate. This was the most significantly felt law on the US Internet gambling market and the result was some of the world's biggest poker sites leaving. US players were instantly shut out of most casinos.

The UIGEA was developed on the basis of four major concerns that the federal government had. One of these was the difficulty of determining the ages of Internet gamblers. There were limited measures of preventing underage gambling and promoting responsible gambling, which made this venue favorable for obsessive gamblers. A lack of regulatory measures that were viable also made it easy for gamblers to get defrauded by scam operations. Lastly, the anonymity of Internet gambling created an ideal set up for money laundering.

The bill passed sneakily by being attached to an unrelated bill. It made it illegal for financial institutions in the country to conduct any online gambling-related transactions. This means that players could play at poker sites, and even bet, but the banks could not transfer their money to and from the casinos.

Some poker sites continued operating but another blow was to be felt in this market a few years later. In 2011, the federal government authorized a hit on the still-operational operators on a day that came to be known as Black Friday. Every online gambler and interested party in US Internet gambling still remembers this day and it serves as a reminder of the anti-gambling stand of the government.

Impacts of the UIGEA

The UIGEA restricts both banks and credit card companies from facilitating cash transactions that are in any way related to gambling. This has meant the virtual doors of popular and large gaming rooms being shut against US players. Some online gambling sites, rather than entirely excluding US players from their virtual gaming rooms, took a less drastic approach by banning only the anti-online gambling states.

Players are not prohibited from playing, but they are still affected as playing the real money games is near-impossible. With deposit options so drastically reduced, e-wallets have become popular. NETeller was popular before the UIGEA was passed but it stopped accepting US gambling transactions. Now the options left for US players include a few e-wallets, as well as AMEX, Visa, and MasterCard.

The use of e-wallets presents a very big problem for the federal government because US money has to leave the country's business flow.

New Jersey, Nevada, and California Online Gambling & Poker Laws

These are the three states in the forefront of the war against anti-online gambling laws in the US and 2013 has been marked by progress. Nevada became the third state to authorize Internet gambling in February. Already made popular by its online poker legislation in 2012, it passed interstate compacts after revising the provisions governing interactive gaming.

New Jersey authorized betting in Atlantic City casinos after regulation of gaming equipment and imposition of taxes on gross revenues in the same month of February. California is also following close behind with its legislation, spurred by the potential revenue in the huge Wild West market.