How Legal is Online Poker?

Most poker players in the United States play the game over the Internet without any worries.  After all, there is no specific law in the US which states that online poker is totally illegal; only the UIGEA which makes specific elements of online gambling illegal.  You can say that online poker is illegal in certain states such as Washington where being caught playing over the Internet can yield the same punishment as raping someone.  But once again, it can’t be said that online poker is illegal across America…unless you’re listening to 60 Minutes.

A recent 60 Minutes broadcast of a segment called “The Cheaters” focused on the cheating scandals which took place at Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker (both have since been joined by the CEREUS network).  In the segment, 60 Minutes did present some facts to their general audience who probably has no clue how online poker really operates.  However, they also managed to botch several things within the show’s airing as well.

One thing they repeatedly said was that online poker is illegal which is not necessarily true.  As mentioned before, in certain states like Washington, it can be a crime to play online poker.  But if you’re talking about the US in general, then ‘no’ it is not illegal to play poker.  There are just too many variables at work to simply label online poker as being illegal.

Another thing that 60 Minutes got wrong was that no legal action has been taken in the case involving UB and Absolute Poker.  This is false due to the fact that the Kahnawake Gaming Commission is currently seeking legal action against Russ Hamilton.  This is a very big fact to get wrong along with repeatedly saying that online poker is illegal.  Hopefully, this misinformed segment on 60 Minutes doesn’t tarnish online poker much. 

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