Online Gambling, No Really?
December 11, 2006 9:23 PM   Subscribe

Can I legally gamble online anymore?

I used to gamble online semi-regularly and have been cashed out for quite a while. Since then, the US has passed regulations banning US banks from sending money to online gaming sites (at least I think this is how the law works).

The site I used to go through no longer accepts deposits from anyone in the US.

Is there any way I can (legally) gamble online from the US with real money, or is it impossible now?
posted by unreasonable to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Second the question. Bonus for poker on the mac
posted by bitdamaged at 9:37 PM on December 11, 2006

If you have Intel, run Parallels and do Bodog. It's great, there are some really crappy players, and they're in the US.

That's the law - if you're in the US, you're fine. If you're offshore, you're out. So, in theory, if you can find someone who's based in the states w/ a Mac client, you're golden.

If you MUST be on the Mac, Full Tilt Poker is also stateside, and has a Mac client. I have played them, but they're poker only - if you're up for blackjack, etc, you're out of luck with them.

Seriously - try Bodog if you can. They have everything, and I find the clientel to be worth the pain of virtualization.
posted by plaidrabbit at 9:51 PM on December 11, 2006

PokerStars and Full Tilt still allow real money play from US players. When Party pulled out, PokerStars and Full Tilt got a lot of their players. Full Tilt has a Mac client, while PokerStars does not.
posted by bedhead at 9:57 PM on December 11, 2006

I don't think the answerers are answering the question.

There are many places where you can still play poker. Full Tilt, Poker Stars, Bodog, Mansion, and lots of small sites.

The question though, was is it legal

This is an unanswered question. The recent legislation made it illegal for banks to transfer money to illegal gambling sites. It does not change what is or is not legal although it does apply the wire act to internet gambling. This makes operating an illegal online gambling operation a federal crime.

There is no case law laying out whether online poker is illegal or not, as far as I know. The US government says it's illegal. Lots of other legal authorities say it isn't.

I'm playing poker right now (I live in the US).
posted by RustyBrooks at 10:02 PM on December 11, 2006

You're still good to go at Full Tilt, Stars, UltimateBet among others.

The split is basically that publicly traded companies are denying US customers while privately held companies will let you, with a few exceptions, play.

Neteller is still in operation, though the days might be numbered on that. No word, since the actual text of the new banking rules hasn't been written yet. I believe they had 270 days after the passing of the law to get the details sorted.

But yeah, go gamble and have fun.
posted by mosch at 10:19 PM on December 11, 2006

I see what you're getting at, RustyBrooks, but the poster mentioned that the site he gambled with before stopped accepting US players, so I interpreted that to mean that he wants to find another site where he can still play.

PokerStars has a page dealing with this specifically, which states, in part:

PokerStars has received extensive expert advice from within and outside the U.S. which concluded that these provisions do not alter the U.S. legal situation with respect to our offering of online poker games. Furthermore it is important to emphasize that the Act does not in any way prohibit you from playing online poker.

So, there you have it.
posted by bedhead at 10:20 PM on December 11, 2006

The legislation forum at 2+2 is a good place to start if you want to view the different viewpoints on what this legislation really means.
posted by cwhitfcd at 10:22 PM on December 11, 2006

That's the law - if you're in the US, you're fine. If you're offshore, you're out. So, in theory, if you can find someone who's based in the states w/ a Mac client, you're golden.

I think, if you look, I was the first answer, and I answered the question.

Rusty, read all the posts first.
posted by plaidrabbit at 10:26 PM on December 11, 2006

plaidrabbit, I read your post. Your legal advice is tenuous at best. I was not actually sure at first reading what you were getting at, but now I think I do and I think you're flat out wrong. It does not matter where the poker site is based. I can not call a bookie in Las Vegas and place a bet (legally) on horses or football - this violates the wire act passed in the 60s. The new legislation extends this to online gambling - you can not place a bet online, even if the betting is legal in the jurisdication where the site exists.

I agree with PokerStar's statement - it does not alter anything. If poker was illegal before, it still is, if it wasn't, it's not now. So if you felt OK playing poker before, keep playing, but do understand that prior to the act, online poker may have been considered illegal, at the very least, by the US government.

Penalties for players are unlikely to be large, and in fact it's generally believed players will not be prosecuted. Executives from 2 (online) sports books have recently been arrested while travelling in the US, though. They operated a publicly traded company in the UK, where it's legal, but this doesn't matter, since in the eyes of the US they violated the wire act.
posted by RustyBrooks at 11:34 PM on December 11, 2006

Hi. Plaid there has, I'm sorry, no idea what he's talking about. w/r/t online casinos based in the US being legal, first, that does not include Bodog.

From Bodog's "about" page:
Founded in 1994, Entertainment, with its head office located in the Caribbean nation of Antigua, is one of the world's fastest growing media and digital entertainment giants.

and takes pride in being licensed in the United Kingdom and Kahnawake, Canada.

Second, it depends on where you are and what your state's laws are, but there may be in-state options available to you if you're in a state where gambling is legal. Without knowing your state, no one's going to be able to help there.

Further, there may be gambling options available to you that are not sports betting or poker. You may, for instance, be able to bet on horse racing.
posted by dmz at 1:02 AM on December 12, 2006

Indeed, I think just being in the US isn't enough information. Didn't Washington state recently pass an anti-online-gambling law?
posted by antifuse at 3:19 AM on December 12, 2006

Another thing to consider is the ability to transfer funds. Third-party funds transfer sites are altering their policies to onstesibly comply with the new legislation.

I have been playing online using Neteller to fund my account, and recently found out that they a) will do wire transfers to U.S. banks, but no longer guarantee that said transfers will arrive safely (!); and b) will no longer let you make said transfers in U.S. dollars.

Luckily, I have moved to Japan, so I could transfer the funds into my Japanese account. But I had to convert my funds first into euros, which was a bit of a hassle.

Some of this was Neteller's customer service, which I'm very displeased with. Moral: be sure you can not just play, but extract funds if you are fortunate enough to win.
posted by jeffmshaw at 3:35 AM on December 12, 2006

er, "ostensibly." Lord.
posted by jeffmshaw at 3:36 AM on December 12, 2006

This is what Poker Stars, etc. are counting on:

The new rule says financial institutions can't take money from illegal gambling.

But gambling isn't illegal on a federal level, so the only law that really applies is the Wire Act. The wire act only specifically refers to sports betting -- originally, sports betting over telephone and telegraph.
posted by dagnyscott at 7:19 AM on December 12, 2006

Alright, I am going to say that it appears, as you have all stated, there is more to this than my simplistic answer. Mea culpa.

However, here's where I was coming from:

I had this same question about two weeks ago, and called Bodog. Their statement to me was that by being incorporated in the US, they were not breaking any rules and that things could go on as normal - unlike PartyPoker, which had no business location in the US to fall back on.

Seems like this may not be true. It appeared to be correct on the sniff test, but as others have shown, it's not correct after all.

We have the ability to get my winnings out through Canada, so I guess I"m not worried anyway.

Sorry for the snark.
posted by plaidrabbit at 7:55 AM on December 12, 2006

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