There are a lot of people in the US who would love to play online poker; unfortunately this is not possible for most. Recently the government shutdown most of the top online poker sites. The assumption is that this was because online gambling is illegal in the US; this in fact may not be the case. The law is actually quite complicated so it can be hard to know what is and what is not illegal.
Online Poker Laws
Most people assume that online poker is illegal in the United States and based on the actions of the government it is easy to see why. That being said the laws are far from clear on just what is and is not legal. Therefore it is important to do some research to find out what the laws are exactly and how they apply to you before you decide whether or not you are going to play poker online.
The first thing that you have to understand about the legality of online poker is that it is not in fact the federal government that determines whether you are allowed to gamble or not it is your state government. Some states allow it others don’t, if you live in a state that allows gambling then in theory you are allowed to play online poker.
We say that you are allowed to play online poker in theory because although you are allowed to play the question is whether or not any casino is allowed to accept you as a player. In 2006 a law was passed that made it illegal for financial institutions to transfer funds to illegal online casinos. This created a great deal of confusion since it was not clear whether any online casinos were legal or not.
In 2010 the federal government shut down a large number of online casinos including almost all of the most popular poker sites and they have charged the owners with committing a crime. Whether or not they are actually guilty of a crime has yet to be determined as trials are pending. The sites were shut down because the government had passed laws that did make it illegal to run an online casino although again the interpretation of these laws remains unclear.
Whether or not online poker is legal in the US is something that the courts will still have to decide, what is clear however is that the federal government want to put a stop to it. That means that even if you live in a place where you are allowed to gamble you likely will not be able to play online. This is less of a legal issue than it is an issue of practicality. The government have gone to great lengths to make it very difficult to online casinos to accept American players which has all but forced them to shut down.