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ePoker Sites Hedging Their Bets

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on February 23, 2010 12:01 PM

The online gambling industry might be under attack. A 2006 law, which goes into effect in June, expands the authority of the Department of Justice to shut down online gambling operations.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) was passed with an intent to cut off monetary flow from American gamblers to online casinos. For online casinos and e-poker websites, this could pose a huge problem with 2.5 million American players and $30 billion in revenues from the United States. The law seeks not only to go after the online gaming venues but also the financial institutions that house funds related to online gambling. The Act will impose the threat of prison time as well as civil penalties to noncompliant parties.

The Department of Justice says that "all forms of Internet gambling, including sports wagering, casino games and card games, are illegal." But in response to this, many poker players are claiming that poker is a game of skill and not, in fact, a game of chance.

Certainly, while most gambling successes require the stars to align, the game of poker is akin to a talent.

The problem for online poker sites is that the UIGEA can be fairly broad in its application. It states applies to the business of "betting and wagering." Therefore, the use of the term "wager" could potentially subject hybrid games of luck and chance to this definition of criminality.

As for online poker websites, many closed their U.S. operations. Still, others stand tall in the face of the new law, daring challenge from the Department of Justice.

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