If you asked this question to the millions of online poker players in the U.S. before April 15, 2011, they would have told you that it has essentially been “legal” for the last 15 years. What most people outside of the online gambling industry fail to recognize is that before 2006, anyone with a credit card could EASILY bet on anything their heart desired via internet offshore sportsbooks.
So what happened in 2006 and April 15th of this year? The Bush Administration passed a law in 2006 banning payments for online gambling and requiring payment processors to block payments for online wagers. Online gambling is NOT illegal in the United States, but processing payments is. Fearing the new federal law, some websites stopped accepting USA customers. Overall, the law was toothless and most sites were able to go ahead with business as usual….until April 15th of this year.Known as “Black Friday” through out the online gambling industry, Southern District U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara unsealed bank fraud and money-laundering indictments against the operators of Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and Absolute Poker, three of the biggest online gambling sites. The government seized their domain names and is currently seeking at least $3 billion in civil penalties and forfeitures.
Just 11 days later, Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein’s office indicted two firms with processing money for internet gambling and seized the domain names of popular sites such as Doylesroom.com, Bookmaker.com and BetEd.com. Pay a visit to any of those websites and all you will see is a Justice Department seal and Homeland Security badge looking back at you. Authorities also seized nearly a dozen bank accounts associated with the companies that contained millions of United States taxpayers hard earned cash.
The actions by the federal government on April 15th and April 26th have for the most part, shut down online gambling by USA citizens. Among these online betting sites, slot online sites are mostly preferred and used by the players. As it was easy to play and chances of winning big in this game are more if played with a plan. But if these sites will be shut down, things will be difficult for players and also there are many people who earn their daily income from such sites.I am not saying that you can not still find a way to play, but the process and time needed to jump through the required hoops to bet offshore has reached its tipping point. And that my friends is EXACTLY where the United States government wants it to be. We now have millions of Americans who are itching to gamble online and can not find their fix, or can they?
Online Poker Legalization
If Rep. Joe Barton has his way, it will be legal for all Americans to play online poker before the end of this year. The Texas Republican and avid poker player, is preparing a bill that would legalize online poker and create a new federal regulatory agency to oversee the licensed websites. Joining the fight is Rep. Jim McDermott, who will reintroduce legislation to tax licensed Internet gaming in the United States. His measure is a companion to legislation introduced by Rep. Barney Frank, that would legalize and regulate online gambling.
“Legalizing, regulating and taxing Internet gambling just makes sense,” McDermott said. “Right now, the U.S. loses billion of dollars to off-shore gambling and illegal gambling rings because of an unrealistic and virtually un-enforceable policy.” Barton expects that his bill will be released next week, at the earliest.
While the bill would legalize online poker and payment process to play in the USA, other forms of Internet gambling and wagering would remain illegal for processing payments.
Under the new legislation, online poker sites would have to be registered in a state where gambling is already allowed, such as Nevada. The Nevada Gaming Commission would be in charge of ensuring the sites operate within state guidelines. Tax incentives would be used to encourage illegal sites to operate within the law, while Internet gambling would not be part of the current tax exemptions given to the horse and dog racing.
To sum it all up, the U.S. government cut off the ability for its citizens to gamble online via offshore websites. A percentage of the $30 to $40 billion dollars of projected world wide online gambling revenues is about to find itself a new home with in the U.S. Treasury as all signs point to the legalization and taxation of online poker with in 6 months.