Despite the questionable legal status of online poker in the United States, millions of Americans continue to log on and play everyday. In an effort to prevent citizens from playing poker on the Internet, some U.S. politicians have proposed legislation that would ban all online poker websites.
Is it legal to play poker on the Internet in the United States? Some will tell you: “yes.” Others will tell you: “no.”
Though no federal bill prohibiting Americans from playing poker on the Internet has passed yet, one state has decided to take up the issue itself. The state of Washington recently passed online poker and gaming legislation that makes Internet poker illegal within state boundaries. The Washington state law took effect beginning on June 7, 2006.
Other countries have also attempted to ban people from playing poker online. Italy enacted legislation that went into effect on Feb. 24 2006 that makes it illegal for Italian Internet Service Providers (ISP) to allow people to connect to an offshore gaming site. But not all countries are trying to pass bills in an attempt to stop their citizens from playing poker on the Internet. In fact, some European countries have even started up their own state-sponsored gambling websites.
One of the main reasons why many countries are attempting to curb online gambling is because of fears of illegal offshore activities. There are other reasons, as well. In the United States, some politicians have made the claim that the growth of online poker has put more people at financial risk of losing large sums of money. Some American politicians have even gone as far as to say that online poker is destroying the moral fabric of the country.
Regardless of whether such arguments are justified, it is still unclear how authorities in different countries would be able to effectively enforce the law. It’s assumed that authorities would need to watch over people’s Internet activities – as is the case in countries like China. If the governments of European and North American countries choose to do that, there would almost certainly be questions raised about whether civil liberties will be violated.
As of yet, nobody has been prosecuted for playing online poker in the United States. Furthermore, there’s still an ongoing debate about whether playing poker on the Internet actually constitutes gambling.
Another gambling community that receives little attention from most world governments is the online backgammon community, and the reason is because backgammon is considered a game of skill. Poker, on the other hand, is seen as a game of luck. However, there are many poker players in the world who just don’t see poker as a game of chance. Compared to other popular casino games, poker seems to involve much more skill.
The top professionals in the poker world win consistently for a reason – and it’s not simply because they’re all extremely lucky. There are many poker books on today’s bookstore shelves that show just how much skill is involved in successful playing poker. If international governments want to go after online poker websites, then maybe they should also go after online backgammon websites. Both are games of skill, and both involve wagering in a sense. Otherwise, perhaps they should leave just leave the world of online poker alone.
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