Is Bitcoin Poker Legal?
Online poker legality is a complex issue with no definitive answer. The current laws are unclear and complicated at the Federal Level, while each US state has different statutes on the issue. With the introduction of bitcoin poker sites, there are even more legal questions to answer.
There is two federal laws that bring into question if online poker is legal in the United States. The first is the 1961 federal Wire Act. This law prohibits gambling establishments using international or interstate telecommunication wires to send or receive money to place bets. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court ruled that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting, but the U.S. Supreme Court has not ruled on the issue.
The second federal law that could apply to the legality of online poker is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006. This law prohibits financial institutions from making financial transactions connected to illegal online gambling. The law doesn’t apply to online gambling within intrastate or Indian Tribe jurisdictions.
Online poker proponents point out that these laws don’t outlaw participating in or operating an online poker site, but only apply to financial transactions involving gambling. The problem that online poker players in the United States face isn’t online poker being illegal, but they have trouble with banking regulations that make it difficult to deposit money on sites.
There are no Federal laws making online illegal for players, but some States do have laws on online gambling. States, where the legality of online poker is in question, include Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New York, Utah and Washington State. The only state that makes participating online poker 100% illegal for players is the Washington State, where it is considered a felony.
Some states have considered passing laws regulating online poker within state borders. Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware have passed laws regulating and allowing online poker in their states. Other states considering online poker regulation include Iowa and California.
Poker is an international card game. Online poker is popular in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Countries have different laws regarding gambling and online poker, before playing bitcoin poker check your local laws.
In jurisdictions where poker isn’t prohibited playing with Bitcoin isn’t a legal issue. Since bitcoin is decentralized so are many bitcoin poker sites, meaning any specific jurisdiction may not regulate them.
How Does Bitcoin Fit into This Legal Mess?
Bitcoin offers a way around the laws that prohibit banks processing financial transactions with online poker sites. Bitcoins are a decentralized, anonymous and a global form of currency that isn’t regulated by any country. Because banks aren’t involved many of the legal issues of online poker no longer apply.
Is Bitcoin the future of online poker? We believe it is and so does professional poker player Bryan Micon the chairman of bitcoin poker site SWC Poker. Bitcoin as a payment processing option for online poker players in the US is sure to grow, with more poker sites accepting Bitcoin.
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