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Poker and the online casino law

Laws against online casino gambling do not necessarily apply to poker. You may ask how come. Well, those who play the game and who are minimally familiar with poker know that poker is a skill game, unlike sport betting or casino games that are based on random chance. Playing poker is not the same as betting or wagering, strictly speaking. So what will become of the popular online casino game in the United States when the law goes into effect?

The answer, of course, is that nobody knows as of now. The latest legislation, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) makes no reference to the previous Wire Act, according to which the online casino business was regulated until September 2006. Neither law, however, addresses playing at online casino sites. This includes, so it seems, not only playing casino games for free, but also playing poker, a game unlike betting or wagering.

But the UIGEA makes it illegal for any bank or financial institution to transfer money to an online casino. The ban on poker as part of the online casino may eventually be implemented through this aspect of the law, bypassing the issue of poker essentially being a game. Just as UIGEA was attached to the Port Security Act in a wayward manner, so might be the fate of online casino poker and the ban on online gambling.

OCA News Editor

Jenny McKinnley is OCA’s financial correspondent. After spending years on the trading floor in both NY and London, she offers insight from the inside out on world financial news and events.