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  • Department of Justice Changes Stance on Internet Poker

    Sunday, December 25th, 2011 by Ryan

Back on Black Friday, online poker players in the United States found themselves with virtually no where to go. Players had played the game they loved for years online, but it was April 15th when everything simply shut down. The three largest online poker sites, PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker were all no longer allowed to accept United States based poker players, and were stuck in situations where they owed quite a bit of money to US players. This caused big issues for two sites specifically, in Full Tilt and Absolute, but fortunately PokerStars was able to stay above water by repaying the players that they owed money to. All three were forced to move out of the US, but only Stars survived, and we are now left where we stand today, with the Department of Justice not allowing US players to play poker. But that all could be changing soon it seems.

In recent news that was released, the Department of Justice decided to release a public opinion which clarified their thoughts on the Interstate Wire Act of 1961. This is the law that is causing the issues relating to legalizing online poker in the United States. It’s this opinion that makes everything a bit more interesting than it was in the whole “should online poker be legal in the US” argument. The document that was released actually states that the interpretation that this really means, is that the law ONLY prohibits sports betting, and doesn’t have anything to do with online poker.

This Wire Act was interpreted as a way to ban online gambling in the United States, and was the main thing that the Department of justice used to prosecute the online poker sites Full Tilt, PokerStars, and Absolute. If you remember back to 2008, the co-founder of PartyGaming, Anurag Dikshit was hit with this Wire Act and had to pay a settlement, and then leave the United States market after that. Since that point though, PartyGaming is now looking at a potential return to the United States thanks to their partnership with MGM Resorts.

So what exactly does this all mean? Well, for starters it means that this decision gives the states the right to legalize many different gambling games on the internet, and a good amount of them actually wouldn’t violate this Wire Act. Anthony Cabot is an attorney for Fertitta Interactive, and stated that since online poker is legal in the state of Nevada and “will occur intrastate”, that it’s legal under the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act.

It’s a bit too early to tell exactly what will happen from all of this, but it could potentially mean good news for online poker players in the United States. For the high-stakes online poker players in the US that moved out of the country in order to continue playing; you may want to give it some more time to see what the outcome from all of this is. Of course players could have something to look forward to in the upcoming months, and potentially have some hope heading into 2012 that they could be allowed to play once again.

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