Betting on Online Poker: US Players Barred?
Many people, including some law experts believe that the Federal Wire Act does not make it illegal to place a bet on online poker. US legislations that were recently passed, however, particularly the UIGEA otherwise known as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, has drastically affected the Internet play of the American gaming public. Since the passage of the UIGEA, many poker sites have chosen to operate outside the United States where they are beyond the reach of the Act to avoid potential legal risks. Moreover, a number of major gaming sites have ceased accepting for the meantime players residing in the Unites States. While players from other countries can continue playing online poker, US players who have money in their accounts in poker rooms have no recourse but to withdraw their funds.
Another impact of the UIGEA on Internet gaming sites is on the way poker enthusiasts load up their account in an Internet card room to enable them to continue playing online poker. US based players are prohibited by law to directly transfer money to their account from any bank, credit card company or financial institution that operates within the jurisdiction of the United States. To go around the law, affected poker players can instead deposit their funds into their account through a third party site.
There is a lot of confusion going on and questions are being asked by many people around the world. Does the law prohibit playing online poker? US residents have mixed reactions on this issue. Some believe that online poker is legal, some say that it is not and still some say that they do not know. The main reason for this mixed reaction is that there are not enough precedents that would clearly define the legality of online poker. US players understandably do not want to test the law and its real interpretation despite the fact that no one has been arrested, charged, indicted, convicted and imprisoned or fined for playing poker online in the United States.
The Federal Wire Act has often been cited by the US Department of Justice as the basis for criminalizing online poker. US jurisprudence, however, has disputed this position of the government for many reasons. Foremost among these is the fact that the Act prohibits betting in a game of chance. Being a game of skill, poker is apparently excluded from this prohibition. Gambling statutes have traditionally been enforced in the United States on a state level. And if gambling is not prohibited in the state where you live, then there is no reason why you can not enjoy playing poker online.