Monthly Archives: January 2009

State Rights: A Hindrance or Help to Online Poker?

The state of Utah is currently mulling over a bill that would enable the states in the US to decide whether or not online poker will be legal in their jurisdiction.  If Congress decides to enact this bill, not much would change in Utah since they and Hawaii are the only two states in America which don’t allow any form of gambling at all.

The rush by the state rep who introduced this bill, Sheryl Allen, comes as a result of the future negotiations between the US and the World Trade Organization which is set to take place next year.  The WTO has stepped in before to settle disputes with Antigua and Barbuda when the nation contended that the US cost them $3.4 billion.  In the end, the WTO sided with Antigua and Barbuda as they were awarded an annual $21 million.

And many think that, when the US and WTO get together next year, the United States will be convinced to change their stance regarding online poker – and online gambling in general.  The general consensus around the world is that the UIGEA violates free trade and won’t stand forever.  If the US can enact some sort of law where states get to decide whether or not online poker and gambling is legal then they stand a better chance of having the WTO tell them what to do.

What I’m really wondering is if allowing states to decide the future of poker is better or worse for the game.  After all, if a state decides that online poker is illegal then residents who are serious about poker will have to move out of their home state in order to continue playing.  Those who decide to keep playing in states where it is illegal may face the consequences of a misdemeanor or felony charge. 

My guess is that the majority of the states out there will decide against allowing their residents to play online poker.  Those that do allow it will probably impose some kind of stupid rules to go along with letting people play the game online.  My hopes are that this bill doesn’t pass or even get any serious consideration from Congress.