US Law on Online Poker

What bothers some is online poker's standing with the law. US law on online poker has something to tell us on who should be put behind bars.

The commonly flaunted US law to scare off gambling in general is the Wire Act. The Act speaks against persons who put up a business that has to do with betting or helping people receive prizes from betting, and the setting up of transmission communication wires for such purpose. Anyone caught so doing will be punished with a monetary fine or imprisonment not exceeding two years, or both.

But experts say no US law on online poker prohibits the game, much less Internet gambling. It is the business of gambling and the use of wire transmission for the purpose and not exactly gambling itself, that the Act prohibits. Meanwhile, the US Justice Department and the Federal Appeals Court have some discussions on the matter they should settle clearly. The US Justice Department is all against casino games, saying they're the same with sports betting while the Federal Appeals Courts begs to disagree.

But poker cannot be considered a sports game, and poker players cannot be charged with any law infringement. As long as they do not engage in the business of wagering and remain merely as poker players, they're clean. As long as poker players bet against each other and there's no prize from a company or organization at stake for gambling, no law is broken.

Traditionally in the US, gambling is regulated on a case to case basis in each State. And so far, no one has been imprisoned due to online poker or any online gambling game for that matter. There are certain casino strictures where relevant---like age concerns---but no overall law against online poker. In fact, online poker cannot be regulated where age limit is concerned. And in fact, we have yet to hear a law regulating online poker.

And there's the other issue. How can anyone device any law against online poker? The US government, around 2004 to 2005, once tried to make a case of online betting against several Caribbean states on the grounds that it allegedly violated some global law. But an international body, the World Trade Organization, dismissed the case. This shows no one country can establish a gambling law for the world, except perhaps the United Nations. But the UN meeting for a poker law?

As far as US law on online poker is concerned, poker players are off the hook.