Did the DoJ ruling make online poker legal?

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Dec 30, 2011 Posted in Poker News | No Comments »

In a recent editorial on CalvinAyre.com, Preston Oade J.D. echoed I. Nelson Rose’s concerns over Joe Barton and his apparent partnering with the Poker Players Alliance. However, Oade didn’t simply rehash Rose’s arguments; instead he put together his case against the Barton Bill itself by pointing out the restrictive measures it contains.

According to Oade, the recent ruling that the 1961 Wire Act is only applicable to wagering on sporting events and contests completely changes the online poker landscape since the UIGEA legislation passed in 2006 calls on the Wire Act to define what is illegal online gambling (the DOJ previously asserted that the Wire Act applied to ALL forms of online gambling even though court decisions have gone the other way). So with the Wire Act no longer applying to online poker, and the UIGEA leaning on the Wire Act for added clarity to its convoluted language, the recent DOJ ruling not only eliminates the Wire Act but also defangs the UIGEA legislation according to Oade!

Oade, like Rose, also feels that Joe Barton and his The Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection, and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2011 will not be in the US poker community’s best interests –which he states should be evident simply from the title of the bill which contains the phrase “Strengthening UIGEA”.

While Barton’s bill may have been seen as the clearest path for online poker legislation in the US, it was fraught with a number of restrictive clauses:

* Only US residents would be allowed at licensed online poker rooms

* All forms of Internet gambling would be termed “illegal” unless licensed by the US

* States could opt-out with nothing more than a letter from the Governor

The new DOJ ruling makes accepting Barton’s restrictive bill a losing proposition for poker players, not the win they felt they were getting –the bill also appears to have the capability to turn on a dime and restrict ALL online gaming in the US down the road considering all forms of online gambling are termed illegal in the bill.

Basically, with the Wire Act defined as only applying to sports-betting there are currently no federal laws in the US that restrict online poker! Banks could not be prosecuted for accepting online poker transactions since the UIGEA only applies to illegal online gaming as described by the Wire Act!

As Oade points out, the Poker Players Alliance should be calling for an overhaul to the currently proposed bill, or should be telling their members to return to online poker sites still operating in the US (Lock Poker, Bovada, and a few others) in droves.

As of this moment it would seem that US-facing online poker sites are breaking no laws and have no risk of prosecution. At this point we are back in the online poker world of early 2006; of course we would need the banks and payment processors to get back on board as well.

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