Online Poker Leaves U.S. on the Sidelines
Online poker is big business. With the game more popular than ever, thousands of people have flocked to the net to try their luck at hundreds of sites and helping to create a multi-billion dollar industry with no signs of slowing down.
While Las Vegas and Atlantic City may have the market cornered on face-to-face poker action, billions of dollars in profit are heading overseas, leaving American casinos in the dust.
Despite the inviting idea of playing for big buck from the comfort of your own PC (and the profit to be made), online gambling is still illegal in the United States. Even though an estimated 70 percent of online gamblers are American, investment companies are forced to set up sites from shell locations like Gibraltar, the U.K. or anywhere else as long as it’s not the United States.
While it’s technically illegal for Americans to play the game, no one in the industry seems worried the feds are going to be cracking down anytime soon. With issues like the global wars on terror and drugs taking the forefront, busting people for placing a few bets online is pretty low on the government’s list of priories.
The law in question is more than four decades old and specifically forbids gambling over the telephone, which was later interpreted to include the Internet.
Some lawmakers have advocated a tougher stance on online gambling in recent years, with a recent bill in the U.S. House of Representative seeking to forbid U.S. citizens from making credit card payments to off shore gambling sites. Such attempts haven’t gained much momentum, and some of the biggest companies in the business aren’t worried. Still, it doesn’t seem likely that any companies will be brazen enough to set up online gambling from U.S. soil anytime soon.
Unless the laws in the United States are changed, online poker will continue to help overseas companies thrive. And as long as human beings continue to enjoy that impulse to play Texas Holdem, it’s a market that’s only getting stronger.