In a surprise bit of news the other day, the US Department of Justice clarified the Wire Act of 1961, and stated that online poker is no longer considered in violation of this law.
This is a pretty big victory for online poker in the United States because the Wire Act outlaws gambling when it crosses from state to state. Seeing as how internet poker no longer falls under the Wire Act any longer, it’s not technically illegal.
Of course, it was never “illegal” for people to play online poker – except in the state of Washington – but it’s still good news that federal lawmakers no longer consider internet poker breaking the law. Instead, the only online wagering activity that the US government views as illegal now is online sports betting.
So does this mean that lawmakers are turning a blind eye towards online poker and chasing after sports betting operations instead? Absolutely not, and you can still expect the UIGEA to continue hampering US online poker until regulation and legalization is set in motion.
After all, the UIGEA prevents banks from dealing with gambling-related transactions, and this is the big reason why some poker sites have committed bank and wire fraud in order to service players. They need ways around the current laws, and unfortunately, these methods have turned out to be illegal in certain situations.
So while online poker may not fall under the Wire Act anymore, we still have a ways to go before those in the US are playing poker free and clear. With talk of regulation some time in 2012 or 2013, it may not be an eternity before the United States sees a better structure in place for online poker players. But we’ll have to wait until that day actually comes.