The passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 --hidden deep within a bill to fight terrorism -- has opened a flurry of questions about the legality of playing and funding online poker. In fact, as of now, there are a lot more questions than answers, and even those answers seem to change from day-to-day. With that in mind, here are some of the most commonly asked questions about the online gambling bill with the answers as we know them:
Q. Is playing online poker illegal?
A. While the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act is still open to a lot of interpretation and has not yet been tested in court, there currently exists no language in the measure that deems illegal the actual playing of online poker. However, some states, including Louisiana and Washington for example, have laws that could make it illegal, if it were ever enforced. Updated 10/6
Q. Which online poker sites still serve United States (U.S.) customers?
A. PokerStars, Ultimate Bet, Full Tilt Poker, Poker.com, Absolute, Doyle's Room, and BoDog have all made public statements indicating they will continue to serve U.S. players. Updated 10/11
Q. Which online poker sites no longer serve Unites States (U.S.) customers?
A.Party Poker, Pacific Poker, Paradise Poker, and all Cryptologic sites have indicated they will cease providing real money games to American players once the bill is signed by President Bush. Updated 10/13
Q. Does this law only apply to online poker?
A. No. This law also applies to sports gambling (it was strongly supported by the NFL, for example) and any other online gambling except for gambling otherwise made legal by state or federal laws. For example, online horse racing sites like Youbet and TVG are currently 100% legal, with no gray area, in most states. This law will not affect those sites. It also will not affect online purchases of state lottery tickets. State lotteries and horse racing are currently regulated and/or taxed by the states and/or federal goverments, and thus, will remain legal online as well. Updated 10/6
Q. What about the United States, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Caribbean nation of Antigua, and the dispute over online betting?
A. In 2004, the WTO sided with Antigua Barbuda in a despite over the United States' stand on internet gaming. The 2004 interim report said the U.S. could not ban internet bets. The Bush administration is keen on free trade and, thus, has to stay within the good graces of the WTO. The case has continued through several variations of Internet gambling laws in the United States and has still not come to a full resolution. If the WTO finds the United States has not been in compliance with WTO rulings, it could face sanctions. A ruling could come later in 2006. Updated 10/6
Q. Will I still be able to use NETeller to fund my online poker account?
A. NETteller has made a decision to no longer serve as a payment processor between American customers living in the U.S. and gaming sites. This decision almost immediately followed the arrest of NETeller's founders. Updated 1/17/07
Q. Will I be able to use FirePay to fund my online poker accounts?
A. FirePay ceased serving U.S. customers who wanted to fund or withdrawal from online gaming companies on Oct. 13, the day President Bush signed the UIGEA into law.Updated 10/13
Q. What can I do to help fight the online gambling ban?
A. While there is some grousing that the Poker Players Alliance dropped the ball on this one, we feel it is still the best avenue for having a collective voice in the poker world. While everyone will have to make a personal decision on this, we recommend you join the PPA. Updated 10/6
Q. Where can I find more updates on the online gambling ban?
A. Up For Poker promises to keep tabs on the latest developments and will provide commentary and news updates when they are warranted. We will also update this list of questions and answers when and if they change. For other updates, we encourage you check out some of the other efforts: