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Gambler alert: Online poker becomes legal (sort of) again

Evan Dashevsky | May 2, 2013
Not long after the ink dried on a Nevada state law authorizing legal online poker last February, the Las Vegas-based Ultimate Poker has opened its virtual doors as the first legal real-money poker website in the United States.

The whole issue gets even more cloudy when you consider that gambling laws are often written specifically towards "games of chance," and a U.S. District Court judge in Brooklyn last year issued a ruling that defined poker as a game of skill rather than a game of chance.

Another possibility is that all the states that allow online gambling could form a compact that would allow residents to bet in each other's virtual casinos.

However, a populous state like New Jersey may be hesitant to risk the potential money from its 8.8 million residents in return for the potential income from the relatively few 2.7 million residents of Nevada.

The true goal for online poker companies is surely to bring back legal real-money gambling across the entire Unites States, an estimated market of $4 to $10 billion. But that sort of outcome would depend on specific new interpretations of federal law in conjunction with reforming the patchwork of individual state laws. That is not an easy undertaking

While the path is unsure, the expectation is that online gambling will come back in some form. The combination of consumer demand, an increasingly libertarian-leaning electorate, and local governments looking to fill their recession-wracked coffers pretty much guarantees that virtual gambling will continue to expand.

That's one outcome you can bet on.


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