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Playing Poker and Casino Games Online - The Law

Why play online

Playing poker (and casino games) on the web is becoming increasingly popular but the question is, why do so many people choose to play online rather than visiting a physical casino?

For starters, if you are a first time player at any of the games you find in a casino, whether poker or slot machines, it can be intimidating if you find yourself playing against the big guns face to face for the first time. It makes a lot more sense to ease yourself into games by playing them online initially. No one knows who you are or how much experience you have, so you don't risk embarrassing yourself.

As online poker rooms are significantly cheaper to run than physical casinos, it means they have smaller overhead costs, which in turn means you are paying less to play.

Is it legal online?

You might be surprised to learn this but from a legal point of view, online poker and casino games have very different rules and regulations to those games played in an actual casino.

What is more surprising is that online poker is not actually legal in America. It is legal and regulated in and around many of the nations around the Caribbean and also in many countries in Europe, including the United Kingdom.

In 2005, in North Dakota, the House of Representatives passed a bill which would legalize and regulate online poker in the state. Within the legislation, it stated that the online poker organisations would have to physically locate all of their operations within the state. However the State Senate wouldn't allow the bill to go through.

Because of this and the uncertainty about whether online poker was legal or not, many of the online poker sites stopped advertising their sites in the American media using dot-com, instead they changed them to dot-net and wrote on their sites that they were not in fact gambling websites.

In 2006, the then President, George W. Bush, signed the Safe Port Act (mostly devoted to improving the security of US ports), which had a provision in it known as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which tried to show that gaming sites were illegal. Many big gaming sites operating in the country were forced to shut down their US-facing operations.

It is still currently illegal to play online poker in America, however there are rumours that it is set to be legalised in the near future.

Fortunately when you are playing in the UK and many other European countries you don't have to worry about these problems and can enjoy time in online casinos whenever you wish.