Federal Poker Laws

When the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) was passed, something that the online gambling world called “Black Friday” occurred. This was when most online betting establishments in the U.S. were shut down. It proved to be a sad day for many, and a lot of honest citizens lost money. As of now, the UIGEA still prohibits the operation of online gambling establishments in America.

This doesn’t so much present a problem to gamblers in the U.S., as it slightly limits their options. All it really means is that you won’t find an online casino near your house. The great news is that there are many reputable, legal online betting establishments located overseas, where owning such a facility is 100% legal. These sites have been around for decades, and are in no danger of being shut down, as the laws regarding online gambling in these places have not changed in years. U.S. citizens are well within their rights to use these sites and gamble with real money, as millions are doing every day.

Background on Federal Gaming Laws

In 2002 the United States Court of Appeals decided that The Federal Wire Act of 1961, which prohibits the electronic transmission of funds or information in conjunction with gambling, did not prohibit Internet gambling. With the rise of online gambling sites in the U.S., congress decided to eventually pass the UIGEA. The UIGEA was enacted into law at 10 a.m. ET on (Black) Friday, October 13, 2006. The law was added to allocate extra provisions to the SAFE Port Act. The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, which was a prior version of the gambling bill, was passed in the House at 1999 but failed to pass the Senate. The final regulations were added in 2008, and the UIGEA hasn’t been changed since.

The intent of the law, however, is not to stop the average gambler from betting, but to stop organized crime and nefarious business practices. You will notice that the mere participation in online betting or wagering is not banned or criminalized by the Act. Furthermore, the law only applies to online gambling operators, employees, and officers, or those who aid or abet an online gambling website that is in violation of certain sections of the law (advertisers and shareholders).

How Does the Law Affect the Average Player Who Wants to Play Poker Online?

Reading through the legal language can be daunting, and it is easy to get confused. The good news is that we do know the law, and the fact is that the average poker player is in no violation of the law by using reputable overseas sites. Only the owners, employees, and shareholders of illegal poker sites can be charged with a crime. This is why there aren’t any online gambling sites on our shores, because they would be in violation of the law. As long as the online poker site is operating out of a place where it is legal to function, it has no fear of being shut down, as it is functioning legally. And the U.S. poker player can play for real money on these sites without breaking any laws.

How Does the Law Apply to These Online Poker Rooms?

The websites listed on LegalPokerSitesUSA.com have been functioning legally for decades in places outside of the U.S. Black Friday didn’t have any effect on them, and the UIGEA didn’t either. This is because these sites are operated outside of U.S. Federal jurisdiction. In fact, the ONLY way the U.S. gambling laws have any effect on the members of these sites is that they cannot send you funds electronically (part of the Wire Act). All this means is that you will have to wait a little longer to collect your winnings. Most poker players in the U.S. agree that this is but a minor annoyance, and completely worth it to be able to play online poker legally in the U.S.A.

You might be wondering how, since you cannot transfer electronic funds online, you are allowed to deposit money on these sites. The way this works is simple. When you make a deposit you will not be putting any money into the site, you will be buying “chips” or “tokens”, and it’s the same as buying anything with your card. The online gambling laws do not have any restrictions on buying merchandise from these sites. So they charge you for buying goods, just like eBay or Amazon. You can then play poker using your chips without any worry that you are making bets from your bank account.

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