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This question as to whether the Wire Act applies solely to wagering on sporting contests or encompasses a broader array of gaming activities has been revisited several times since then.
The question of the Wire Act possibly covering forms of wagering online beyond mere betting on sports was of interest to several state lotteries.
To be more specific, Illinois and New York were toying with the idea of selling lottery tickets online and were curious if their plans would be impacted by the Wire Act's provisions.
To obtain guidance on this matter, the two states sent an inquiry to the DoJ for clarification in December The DoJ issued its opinion two years later in September Thus, we can see that, although not asked to comment directly on poker, the DoJ opined that the scope of the Wire Act is confined solely to sports betting.
This decision was cheered by fans of real money online gaming because it meant that casino, poker room, bingo, and lottery transactions could be performed over the internet legally.
In January , the Department of Justice revealed that it had changed its mind and reversed its guidance. Despite this document only becoming publicly available in early , it's dated November This is bad news for state-regulated poker in particular because it means that agreements to pool player liquidity among different licensing jurisdictions, like the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement,  would become illegal.
Fortunately, lottery operators went to bat for the entire internet gambling community again. District Court declared that the Wire Act only prohibits sports betting-related actions and has nothing to do with poker or casino wagers.
The DoJ has appealed this decision, and we might have to wait awhile until a final determination is made, but for now, it looks as though the Wire Act will remain a non-issue as far as online poker is concerned.
The Federal government made a tacit admission of this fact when it announced that it would not prosecute anyone under the terms of its new Wire Act interpretation until or until a final resolution is reached in the New Hampshire litigation.
One of the oddities of the way the Wire Act is used in practice is that it's really only state-licensed online gaming sites that have anything to worry about.
If they attempt to partner with their peers in other states, then the determination as to whether or not poker and casino play is excluded from the Act's remit is a very important one for their business prospects.
In theory, the same is true of offshore brands as well. However, in practice, these organizations are housed in far-off countries, and so they're beyond the reach of the FBI and other three-letter agencies.
Ironically, or maybe not so much the same entities that are doing their best to comply with U. And as we noted earlier, regular players are exempt from the Wire Act and its penalties, so they can play at their choice of online poker site without worry.
UIGEA makes the knowing processing of deposits to illegal online gambling sites forbidden for banks. UIGEA is in no way directed at private citizens.
This legislation doesn't even identify what counts as disallowed online gambling, instead relying on other statutes to give it teeth — the same statutes that, as we have remarked about above, exist in a confused, disjointed, and unclear state!
These two unscrupulous senators, Bill Frist R, Tenn. Note how the law has nothing to do with players or the operators and does not actually restrict the play of everyone's favorite card game online.
The main goal of UIGEA was to underhandedly shut down real money online poker while the major US casinos played catch-up to their offshore brethren.
We have written about UIGEA in great depth and you can read more about it here if you are so inclined. You see, domestic casinos had greatly underestimated the potential market size of online gambling for real money.
They thought it was only a passing fad; the unscrupulous lobbyists needed a stop-gap measure in order to come up with plans to infiltrate this multi-billion dollar industry.
UIGEA was their chosen tactic. Fortunately for us all, the casino lobbyists — with their underhanded tactics, deceptions, and attempts to infringe upon the rights of American citizens to engage in legal activities in the privacy of their own homes — have failed miserably.
Luckily there are plenty of reputable, offshore-regulated sites that still provide games to Americans like you. While the UIGEA has proven to be an irritation to them, particularly as regards being able to conduct real money transactions with U.
Innovative payment solutions, like Bitcoin, have enabled international gaming sites to perform an end run around the moribund financial services industry.
If you're interested in our recommendations for the best U. We've gone over some of the important legislation that could intersect with real money online poker and have concluded that there's little to worry about at least from the perspective of the everyday player.
Now let's examine a few of the court cases where these laws — and others — have been put to the test. Almost always, what the courts say takes precedence over what the Department of Justice and prosecutors think.
In one of the earliest decisions that tried to clarify the scope of the Wire Act, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals made a judgment in the case In Re Mastercard.
A lower court dismissed the case, ruling that the debts were valid and had to be paid off. Upon appeal, the court of appeals for the 5th circuit upheld this decision.
Pointing out that the types of gambling the plaintiffs participated in did not include sports betting, the court wrote:. There are no two ways of reading that statement.
It's an explicit ruling that the Wire Act is concerned only with sports gambling. What happened was that two men were convicted of booking sports bets across international boundaries from customers within the United States.
They appealed arguing that the government had failed to establish that the wagers they accepted involved sports. The court disagreed with them and found that it was clear from the evidence presented that the defendants had committed the crimes alleged.
As an aside, what got Todd Lyons for whom the case was named and his co-defendant Daniel Eremian in trouble was that they were conducting their illicit business while located within the United States.
This is what allowed the police to search their belongings and property in the first place and build a case against them. Had they chosen instead to avoid setting foot within the country, they likely would have gotten off scot free.
In September , Kentucky moved to seize more than domain names of sites that it claimed were offering illegal gambling to its residents.
They were some of the biggest names in the industry at that time, including such recognizable websites as PokerStars.
After initial partial victories for Kentucky in lower-level courts, reversals at higher tribunals, questions about standing, appeals, and other legal minutiae, those cases were settled in favor of the gaming sites  in without any criminal wrong-doing admitted by any parties.
In another case involving The Bluegrass State, the authorities attempted to use an old law that provides for the recovery of triple damages for gambling losses to punish PokerStars.
However, after delving into the complex history of the state's Loss Recovery Act, which goes all the way back to the English Statute of Queen Anne in , the Kentucky Court of Appeals reversed this judgment.
The entire action was dismissed. In September , Peter Dicks, chairman of the U. He was being charged with gambling by computer, which is a felony in Lousiana, despite the fact that he was not present within the state at the time this crime was alleged to have been committed.
Dicks was detained in New York, and Louisiana requested his extradition. According to the rules governing extradition, a person can only be remanded to the custody of a state requesting extradition if his supposed crimes took place within that state.
Since Peter Dicks was not suspected of gambling-related violations while present in Louisiana, New York had no obligation to hand him over, and he was set free.
This incident shows the limitations of prosecutorial power when trying to penalize representatives of offshore sports betting outfits.
When we consider that the rules against online poker, if they exist at all, are much less strict and that the penalties for individual players, again if they exist at all, are much less serious than for the principals of gambling businesses, we can see how troublesome it would be for officials to bring charges against citizens for playing poker online.
The law enforcement crackdown that perhaps looms largest in the minds of USA poker players is the Black Friday events of April 15, This is when three of the biggest online poker sites were shut down, leading to consternation and financial distress among a large part of the American poker playing community whose account balances were frozen.
Their websites were seized and takedown notices displayed. Federal charges involving the UIGEA and banking fraud were levied against these companies and their executives.
Later, as part of a settlement it reached with the DoJ, 'Stars purchased Full Till and revived the brand. The events of April serve as potentially the most valid counterexample to our contention that internet poker is completely legal for the average Joe to play.
After all, many players saw their funds seized, and it took several years before they were made whole. Though no online poker customer was charged with any crime as a part of Black Friday, having a substantial portion of one's bankroll seized is no laughing matter despite all these funds eventually being repaid.
When we dig beneath the surface, we see strong indications that the Black Friday indictments were a one-off that's unlikely to be repeated. First of all, the feds lucked out when they were able to use the threat of a long prison sentence to turn payment processing guru Daniel Tzvetkoff into their informant.
Tzvetkoff spilled the beans on how offshore gaming sites were circumventing banking rules to bypass the UIGEA. He wouldn't have been able to tell prosecutors anything much, though, if the poker rooms had been wise enough to avoid the U.
Indeed, a major part of the government's case was that these operations were committing fraud by miscoding transactions for gambling as though they were other types of transactions, like clothing purchases.
Nowadays, offshore internet poker providers basically have nothing to do with U. Instead, they send checks out of Canada or employ difficult-to-trace payment mechanisms, like Bitcoin.
Therefore, the specific methods used to gather evidence in the run-up to Black Friday would likely be of little help to any bureaucrat dreaming of setting into motion a Black Friday 2.
Another key point is that the UIGEA was invoked in the first place because of the Department of Justice's mistaken insistence that the Wire Act covered poker games: a position that we have already exposed as fallacious.
Curiously, less than half a year after BF, the DoJ acknowledged that the Wire Act only applied to sports wagering although it has since flip-flopped on this subject again.
In short, the combination of poor industry practices and obfuscatory legal mumbo-jumbo that made Black Friday possible is not a favorite to repeat itself.
We therefore feel confident enough in the current environment to recommend trustworthy USA-friendly online poker rooms to our customers, and we're secure enough in the knowledge that our money is safe that we ourselves hold real money balances at all the sites we represent.
Another factor that comes into play with regard to the legality of poker is the debate as to whether it's predominantly a game of skill or luck.
This is relevant because many of the state laws that prohibit certain kinds of gambling do so only for those games that are deemed to be mostly luck-based.
This is why, for instance, athletes can compete for real money prizes even where gambling is strictly prohibited: Their endeavors are deemed to be contests of skill and thus exempt from most gambling laws.
We here at ProfessionalRakeback are not just advocates of internet poker; we're also avid players ourselves. It should come as no surprise then that we're firmly of the opinion that poker is unequivocally a game of skill although there are undoubtedly elements of luck involved particularly in short-term results.
We are not the only ones with such an interpretation. For example, in a long and detailed page ruling, a Federal Judge elucidated that poker is a game of skill  and therefore not gambling or subject to laws about gambling.
In other words, this Federal Judge ruled from the bench that poker should be treated as a skill game. A highly respected law firm hired by a D.
There's another type of online poker room that has emerged in the past decade: operations that have the full approval of state authorities in several parts of the country that have passed legislation specifically to achieve this.
Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey already have licensed interactive poker organizations that have been running now for years. Pennsylvania and West Virginia have enacted the necessary laws and are just waiting for the appropriate regulatory regimes to be set up and for companies to receive licenses.
There are certain advantages to these state-regulated i-poker organizations. Customers have a ready remedy in case of any malfeasance on the part of site management because they can complain to the local regulatory authority.
Moreover, there tend to be convenient deposit and cashout methods, like PayPal, that are unavailable when dealing with offshore poker providers.
However, there's a downside too. Because the USA market for state-legalized poker is a small one, total player counts and therefore traffic at the tables is small.
You won't see the bustling cash game lobbies or big-money tournament guarantees that are commonplace at international internet poker destinations. Three states — Nevada , Delaware , and New Jersey — have sought to remediate this situation by forming a compact amongst themselves to allow users in each state to access the same pool of tables and tournaments as those located in the other states.
However, the effectiveness of this arrangement is limited because there's only a single operator that transacts in all three states and is therefore eligible to benefit from it.
Even this limited form of interstate poker may have to come to an end because the Department of Justice now contends that such card game action that crosses state lines is contrary to the demands of the Wire Act.
The DoJ has lost a court case on this subject, but it has appealed the ruling. The existing traffic-sharing compact may wind up being dismantled, but even if it continues, new states are disincentivized to join it until this legal uncertainty is resolved.
Despite the many attempts to legally shutter the vibrant online poker ecosystem in the United States, our favorite game is still available to play over the internet for real money, and this doesn't seem like it's going to change any time soon.
Indeed, there are indications that we're seeing a renaissance in the field with shifting opinion both on the part of legal professionals and the lay public as a whole.
Pennsylvania legalized poker over the internet in October , and West Virginia passed an online gambling bill in March These are the first new legalized online poker states after a hiatus of about half a decade since the initial roster of Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey.
This thesis is bolstered even more with the decision in Murphy vs. If you want fully legal, regulated online poker, then you might want to contact your local representative and let them know how you feel.
The second step is getting your bankroll in order for online poker. Most regulated online poker sites accept credit cards and wire transfers. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are becoming increasingly popular for online poker.
It might be a good time to familiarize yourself with the concept and look into acquiring some crypto. As for depositing into U.
Okay, no problem, this is how we solve that. Try contacting customer support live or by telephone.
Figuring out when individual states will pass online poker legislation is very much like trying to hit a moving target. Even after states enact bills and amendments for legalizing and regulating online poker, there tends to be a one or two-year waiting period before online gambling sites actually come to market.
Keep in mind, there are no guarantees and the dates are still very much in flux, but these are our updated predictions.
Take a state like Connecticut, for example. Connecticut is a progressive state, which usually makes gambling laws more likely.
The Connecticut government collects a lot of casino taxes, so the legislature likes gambling. Internet poker legislation is complicated.
More info. You can read out withdrawals page for more more details about how to withdraw money safely. You essentially just enter your bank number and routing number on your check to deposit.
An eWallet is a 3rd party processor not used much anymore, but basically, you pay the processor and then the processor pays the poker sites.
US residents are unable to play real money poker at the following online poker sites because they do not accept Americans.
Thirteen years ago, the US government passed a law that made it illegal for banks to distribute money to gambling sites that accepted wagers from the United States UIGEA.
I trust some offshore sites more than I would any state-regulated online casino. The DOJ even stated online poker was not illegal unless you owned the poker site.
Michigan legalized online poker in late Regulated online poker is officially live Pennsylvania. Online gambling was was set to debut in winter of but was delayed several times.
The market finally went live in late One bill was introduced in January and the other in February of Last February 15th, one bill passed the Senate Gaming Committee vote and passed the Senate Finance Committee vote a few months later on May 9th.
It passed the full Senate vote on June 13, but it did not receive a vote by the Assembly. SB passed the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee on March 8th vote last year and it went to the full Senate for a potential vote but did not receive one.
On September 12, , a second online gaming bill HB was introduced. The bill is in a House Committee to receive a hearing and possible vote.
On May 31, , the Illinois Senate passed a bill, HB , to regulate and legalize online gambling poker and casino games by a vote. This bill then went to the House but was later shelved for the time being.
Hopefully, we have provided some insight into US poker sites and how you can play online safely. Ideally, USPokerSites. Play Now Review. See all Poker Sites.
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The US online poker for real money scene continues to grow, and a number of fantastic poker sites for real money games are now available to play here.
There are many to choose from, but this article will focus on only a few of the best US friendly poker sites available right now.
Players here have the option to play instantly online or download the software for a bigger selection of games. Their design is simple and offers a live chat feature that helps customers with any questions they might have.
It was formed as a replacement for Bovada and strives to offer members the same high-quality gaming experience that its predecessor did. Many members of Ignition praise the website for their highly functioning mobile platform.
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