The recent television exposure poker has enjoyed the past few years has brought the legality of internet poker to the minds of many people. Is it legal to play poker on the internet? We have gathered all the information that we could find including court rulings on the subject.
A mistake a lot of people make is to compare poker to sports betting or games of random chance. Poker is a game of skill and while chance does factor in, it is not the deciding factor in the long term success or failure of an internet poker player. It my eventually be treated as games of chance, but then again it may not. There has been no legal precedent for this. There has never been anyone sentenced, convicted, brought to trial, or even charged for playing internet poker online. This is not to say that it can not happen in the future.
According to a leading authority on gambling law, Professor I. Nelson Rose:” no United States federal statute or regulation explicitly prohibits Internet gambling, either domestically or abroad.” The Wire Act is what most people think makes online poker illegal. Here is what it says “Whoever being engaged in the business of betting or wagering knowingly uses a wire communication facility for the transmission in interstate or foreign commerce of bets or wagers or information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers on any sporting event or contest, or for the transmission of a wire communication which entitles the recipient to receive money or credit as a result of bets or wagers, or for information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.” Rose also goes on to say “The first element of the Wire Act, says that the statute applies only to an individual involved in the ‘business of betting or wagering’ (not to a common player).”
There are many ways one can interpret The Wire Act, but only under the broadest interpretation would make playing online internet poker illegal. In many peoples opinion it is not against the law for US residents to play internet poker online. In Sept. 2006 congress passes legislation that makes it a crime for a financial institution to transfer money to an online gambling site. This is why you can’t use your bank card to fund your account. The bill did not address playing poker on the internet in any way.
So there is most of the information available. I hope it helps you draw your own conclusion of whether playing internet poker is legal or not.
I have been playing no-limit Texas hold ’em for about fifteen years. I recently started a strategy website http://www.no-limitpokerstrategy.com Feel free to stop by and take a look around. You just might find some more tips to help your game. You can also email me questions, comments, or anything else you like.