The Fight to Legalize Internet Poker

Posted on: March 22, 2011

There has been a long battle to legalize Internet Poker in the US. Now, you may be wondering, how do companies like PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker operate in the US? For the majority of Internet Poker sites, they operate from abroad, and their owners and operators usually end up choosing not to enter US borders, in case they are arrested and prosecuted under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) which was passed in 2006. Other companies choose to operate under the assumption that they will not be prosecuted, because the law is hard to interpret in terms of who is gambling and where they are located. Senator Reid has been a champion of an Internet Poker Bill for many years and attempted to push through an Internet Poker bill during the lame duck session in December 2010, which ended up failing. But that wasn’t the end of the fight to legalize Internet Poker. Senator Reid is still trying to get a law in place that would make Nevada the regulators for the new industry. But some large casino companies such as Wynn Las Vegas and Caesars Entertainment are also involved in the fight. They are hesitant for Internet Poker to be legalized without some serious thought into what to do with existing companies. Obviously, if Internet Poker were legalized in Nevada, the big casino players would immediately want to be involved. Especially Caesars, with its World Series of Poker brand being very strong in the Poker world. However, it would be nearly impossible for these companies to enter a market that already has such saturation. The main point the casinos are trying to get across is that the existing companies must be excluded from being able to run their existing sites, citing that they have been breaking the law for years and should not reap any of the benefits of legalization. The big casino companies need a period of time after legalization to figure out how to run Internet poker sites effectively, which sites like PokerStars and Full Tilt have already mastered. Also, in terms of customers, there would be no reason for loyal PokerStars players to try out a Wynn Las Vegas brand of Internet Poker when they are already part of an established site. In any case, this fight is far from over and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

What are your opinions on the legalization of Internet Poker? Pros and Cons for the State of Nevada? The US?


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This blog is devoted to the gaming industry news and information - keeping you up to date on the happenings in the gaming world. My personal expertise lies in event planning and entertainment in casinos.

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