is online poker legal?
s it legal to play online poker? Most people who play poker sooner or later come to ask themselves and others they know about online poker legality. Well, while I know that speaking one's mind is still not illegal, I guess I'll take this opportunity to say that with a Congress full of lawyers we can't be surprised that we have to ask ourselves this question that, frankly, we shouldn't have to ask ourselves.
So, is online poker legal? My opinion, which is shared by many legal scholars who have looked into the issue, is yes, it is perfectly legal--unless it is prohibited by the laws of a certain state, which it sometimes is. But in the majority of states, there is no question that online poker is legal. Yet, tell that to our illustrious Ministry of Dogooders, aka the Justice Department, and of course their minions in the mainstream media--like those people on the "60 Minutes" TV show who insisted not that long ago that all online poker playing is definitely illegal.
They made this assertion repeatedly even though gambling law expert Professor I. Nelson Rose was contacted by them before they recorded the show. "...I made it clear to them. You can’t say for sure that online poker is illegal. There are too many variables. The show gave the false impression that it’s a crime to play poker when in fact in probably half of the states, you’re not committing any crime at all...The Justice Department has taken the position that cross-border betting is illegal, which also means that interstate horse racing is illegal. You can’t just talk to a prosecutor who is waging a war of intimidation and then quote them [on 60 Minutes]," he said later on.
Given the fact that states have traditionally been given the right to regulate all poker playing within their borders, what's gotten up the butt of the Justice Department? A federal law that was passed in 1961 called the Wire Act. This law explicitly states that it is a federal offense for anyone to send or deliberately receive a "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."
However, the Wire Act was written decades before there was even a thought of playing poker online, so what was it really written to address? Legal scholars, and the courts have upheld this (so far), that it was written to put the clamps on sports betting. Horse race betting, as long as you're at the track, has clearly not been found to be illegal, so the Wire Act was, it seems clear, written to prevent a remotely-controlled new "Black Sox Scandal", whereby placing bets on sporting events would result in the athletes being pressured, or cajoled, into throwing games and referees into fixing them. The Wire Act has also been seen as protection against illegal casino fixes--such as fixing roulette or Blackjack games from afar to avoid detection.
But in poker, the whole point of the game is to place bets. No betting, no poker. Most people above the age of 14 don't find it much "fun" to play for pennies or for fake money. Poker rooms and poker players know how to police each other and they are swift to punish cheaters--like people online who get caught using poker bots. No Wire Act was ever needed to protect poker players from doing what they came together online to do in the first place.
Not a single person has (yet) even been charged with the crime of playing online poker for real money, let alone arrested, tried, convicted, or punished for it. As of right now, the Wire Act has not been given the de facto interpretation including online poker playing that the feds need. But, if and when the question "Is it legal to play online poker?" comes before the US Supreme Court, what will they decide? Time will tell. In the meantime, learn and win all you can at online poker! Take the time to read our indepth online poker review of the top poker rooms.Exit Is Online Poker Legal » Learn Texas Holdem Poker
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