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Online Poker Sites Shut Down—Does This Pave the Way for US Legalization?

James BrownSenior Analyst IApril 16, 2011

Online Poker Sites Shut Down—Does This Pave the Way for US Legalization?

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    Gaye Gerard/Getty Images

    On April 15th, the online poker world was dealt a bad beat as they were forced to shut down.  Three of the largest online Poker sites, PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker were charged with an array of devastating charges.

    Now there are several questions that remain unanswered.  What will happen to PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker?  How will this affect the online poker player, and will this pave the way for legalization of online gambling in the U.S.?

The Charges

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    The three poker sites were charged with bank fraud, illegal gambling offenses and money laundering.  The Manhattan U.S. Attorney backed by the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), went after the poker rooms as well as the establishments that assisted with financial transactions.

    The maximum penalties for the violations are 30 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.  These charges rocked the online poker world and could change the laws in the U.S.

Online Poker

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    Gaye Gerard/Getty Images

    This could be a death blow for PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker.  Only Absolute Poker is still open and it is only a matter of time before the close their doors for good.  All three locations will still offer real gaming to other locations outside the United States.

    Other poker sites are still operational online and they should see an increase in sign ups, but they will always have one eye on the government, as they may be the next target.

Poker Players shut out?

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    Gaye Gerard/Getty Images

    The online poker player will have to find new ways to play cards with the latest accusations.  The biggest problem for the companies is receiving funds from a player that lives in the U.S.  In the case noted above.  Poker rooms would accept money by disguising the payments.  The payments would be covered up and made to look as if the player was paying a bill or purchasing a gift.

    Since PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker were heavily advertised in the United States, it was only a matter of time before they were shut down.  If poker players continue to play online they will have to play at their own risk or make a trip to a legal casino in the states to enjoy poker.

Legal in the US?

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    The speculation that is rapidly circling through the world of online poker, is that this was a move by the U.S. that could pave the way to legalize online poker.

    If online poker is legal in the U.S., it would funnel billions of dollars to the government that is currently going to illegal poker room overseas.  If online poker was legalized in the states as early as next year, they would easily recruit millions of players.  They have just knocked out their three biggest competitors in the market and this could lead to a revolutionary change in the gambling industry.

    For now the poker player is left waiting to see what happens next and the online industry is in turmoil.  It will be interesting to see what unfolds next.

    Matt Regaw is a B/R Featured Columnist and the founder of BookieBlitz.com, your one-stop shop for sports articles, previews and predictions. Feel free to contact Matt at mregaw@gmail.com.

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