Best U.S. Poker Rooms
The law essentially prohibits the operation of certain types of betting businesses using wire communications. The act passed decades before the internet or online poker even existed. However, since it governed the loosely-related act of betting or wagering using wire communications, many believed it had some jurisdiction over online gambling. The opinion concluded that interstate transmissions of wire communications that do not relate to a sporting event or contest fall outside of its reach.
Interested states took it to mean the act did not apply to online poker or other forms of online gambling. Now, four of those states have passed legislation legalizing and regulating the activity.
It made it illegal for US banks to process transactions for offshore online gambling operators. The law effectively pushed a number of online poker sites out of the market. Other sites stayed in the US. Playing online poker is not strictly against any US laws. Therefore, a number of offshore sites continue to find creative ways around the banking issues created by UIGEA and continue to accept US customers.
In the years following the indictments, four states have also passed bills legalizing and regulating the activity in fenced-in markets inside state lines. Three of those states have also signed an agreement to share player pools. In the meantime, Global Poker , which started accepting US customers in December , uses a sweepstakes and virtual-currency online poker model. The first online poker sites in Pennsylvania are not expected to launch until the second half of Global Poker offers what amounts to real-money online poker to players inside the United States.
The site launched in December offering a form of virtual currency gaming. There are also Gold Coin poker games, but no real money available down that road. Global Poker uses its own custom-made poker software incorporating its patented sweepstakes technology. Global Poker runs various freeroll tournaments and promotional leader boards.
All of the banking is done through PayPal. As a result, most states have tribal casinos, commercial casinos or card rooms where you can expect to be able to play live poker. Up to and including January , there are just four US states with laws legalizing and regulating online poker.
It approved both online poker and online casino games. In February , Nevada became the second state to come on board, authorizing the issue of online poker licenses. Within a week, New Jersey became the third state to legalize online gambling. It authorized the issue of licenses to casinos in Atlantic City that allowed them to operate both online poker and online casino sites.
In April , the first-ever legal and regulated online poker site in the US went live in Nevada. An offshoot of Station Casinos affiliated with the Ultimate Fighting Championship mixed martial arts organization ran the site. By November of that same year, legal and regulated online poker sites also went live in Delaware and New Jersey.
Pennsylvania became the fourth state to authorize online gambling when it passed online poker and online gambling legislation as a part of a comprehensive gambling expansion bill in October The regulatory and licensing process for online poker sites in Pennsylvania is still ongoing as of January Of course, a number of other states, including California , New York , Massachusetts , and Illinois have all seriously considered various forms of legislation that would legalize and regulate online poker over the past few years.
Three states have introduced online gaming legislation that would presumably include online poker in already. West Virginia has reintroduced a version of a bill. New York and Michigan both had online gambling bills carry over from last year. The federal government has succeeded in pushing the largest global online poker site operators out of the US market.
However, several offshore online poker operators still accept US players. Additionally, an Australian online poker site called Global Poker began offering the equivalent of real-money online poker to customers across the US in partnership with Facebook and PayPal in December The site uses a patented virtual currency and sweepstakes model to skirt around US online gambling laws.
Online gambling first hit the internet when online casinos started opening in The operators were mostly based in places like Antigua or the Isle of Man , but they still took customers from the United States and were only too happy to accept US cash.
In , the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake , a First Nations group based just outside of Montreal, Canada brought online gambling to North American soil for the first time. It set up a gaming commission and started issuing licenses to online casino sites. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission helped the number of online gambling websites around the world go from a handful to hundreds. In , a Canadian entrepreneur launched the first-ever online poker site. By , the US Senate realized online gambling was widespread across the US and sought to do something about it.
The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act was introduced, but it did not pass. Over the next few years, sites introduced more sophisticated online poker software , and new sites launched around the world, offering cash games and tournaments. At the time, the DOJ disagreed , claiming online gambling was illegal, However, the industry kept growing.
A Tennessee accountant aptly named Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker Main Event after getting into the tournament through an online satellite. Millions of Americans thought they could be next. Poker was suddenly everywhere on TV, as the advent of hole-card cameras made live games more watchable than ever. Most shows were branded, and the commercial breaks were filled with spots for offshore online poker sites. The productions sold the game to the American TV-watching public and they bought it.
Then, in , congress took another shot at taming the wild beast. Several sites still accepted US players and found ways around the banking issues. Online poker continued to grow until April 15, On that day, three of the largest online poker operators in the world were indicted on various illegal gambling and money laundering charges, including violating UIGEA.
Access to the sites from the US was shut down, and the massive US online poker market was effectively closed. In response to questions regarding the legality of online lottery sales in December , the DOJ released a legal opinion that the Federal Wire Act only applies to sports betting.
Several states took this to mean they could consider licensing and regulating online poker and casino sites if they wanted. Delaware was the first state to do it, approving both online poker and online casino legislation in In February , Nevada became the second state to pass online gambling legislation, authorizing the issue of online poker licenses.
A week later , New Jersey became the third state to legalize online gambling and made plans to issue licenses for online poker and online casino sites. Legal and regulated online poker sites went live in Delaware and New Jersey in November Pennsylvania became the fourth state to legalize online poker when it passed a comprehensive gambling expansion bill in October Now, as sites jump through the regulatory hoops to get games up and running in Pennsylvania, even more states are considering similar online poker legislation.
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