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Let's Make Online Poker Legal in all 50 States

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  • Let's Make Online Poker Legal in all 50 States

    Hello all, I am sick and tired of not being able to play online for cash. I have sent e-mails to both Senators in Florida. They answered and said it was a state issue. Since then I have been writing an e-mail each month to my state senator and representative. I have been doing this for 3 months. I have only received the standard form letter/e-mail back. I am going to send the monthly e-mail for 3 more months and then if I don't get a response, I will start writing it once a week and calling every month. I am asking you to take 5 minutes, find your state reps. and send the 2 that represent you an e-mail asking them to make online poker legal in your state. If you live in one of the four that have already made it legal, be grateful. I believe if New York, California and Florida make it legal all of the states will follow. I have sent an e-mail to Jonathan Little, Alex Fitzgerald, and James Sweeney. Jonathan answered right away. I asked them and I'll ask here if there are pros that read this. Please start talking about this. It is unreal that we cannot play online. Pennsylvania just made it legal, Michigan is up next. If you read that article, New Jersey is expected to bring in 400 million in tax receipts over the next 5 years. This is a great sales line to any state representative. Every state is looking for income. I will be cross posting this to other forums, if anyone has any ideas on how to get this done, please let me know. I signed up for poker players alliance right after black Friday, After a couple years I stopped following because I lived in New York and it seemed hopeless. They are still around, it just doesn't seem like they are making progress. I don't know what happened to them. Doing some searches, I see pictures of Annie Duke and Howard Lederer, thinking the full tilt fiasco diminished PPA. If anyone knows of another org. that is lobbying to make it legal, or has other ideas on how to get this done, let me know. I am ready, willing and able to help make this a reality.

  • #2
    I went to the PPA website and found this You put your zip code in and it pulls up all of your representatives. It then lets you write an e-mail to all of them.


    • kkep
      kkep commented
      Editing a comment
      I wrote my Governor about a month ago

  • #3
    Write an Amicus Brief to the WTO on behalf of Costa Rica who is suing the US over IUEGA as a restraint of trade.


    • #4
      It's not necessarily a state issue. It's only a "state issue" because it's illegal federally (sort of; I am simplifying the constitutional law issues a bit). If the senators really wanted to they could try to legalize it nationwide.


      • #5
        I agree with you KJ, My senators will be getting the e-mails I send. I am going to start calling also.


        • #6
          I have now done some research on the issue and it's more complex than I realized. (Disclaimer: I am a lawyer but this is not legal advice in any way. I'm not an expert in this field (or really any field of law yet)). Basically (TL;DR) it is in fact a state issue in some ways, although the federal government could legalize online poker nationwide if it wanted to.

          If you read nothing else in this post, this paragraph is the most important: I believe that the federal government could pass a law making online poker legal nationwide under Congress's nearly unfettered power to regulate interstate commerce. If you call your Congressperson and Senators or write them letters and they claim there's nothing they can do, the key phrase you should use in response is "interstate commerce." If you were discussing with a U.S. Senator and he or she said "it's a state issue," and you responded, "what about the commerce clause?" (referring to the clause in the Constitution giving Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce), that should mean something to their ear.

          This paragraph is very unimportant and probably boring unless you like constitutional law: To be more specific, Congress can only pass a law if the U.S. Constitution specifically gives it the power to do so. Any power not specifically given to Congress is reserved for the states by the Tenth Amendment (incidentally the basis for the sports betting case that came down today). The most important of Congress's enumerated powers is the power to regulate interstate commerce, which is extremely broad and has been interpreted to be nearly limitless. This power would absolutely apply to online poker unless you somehow had a site that was located in State A, only allowed players located within State A, and had nothing to do with any other state (hmm sounds familiar). Any other sort of online poker would be interstate.

          The point is, Congress could do it.

          Instead, this is the current state of play, in which it's sort of true that it's a "state issue":

          The two prongs working in tandem are the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and state laws that make gambling illegal (including poker, according to the state prosecutors' interpretations of their laws). The former makes it unlawful to accept money in connection with bets or wagers made in violation of federal or state law. So if no federal or state law exists banning wagers on poker, then the UIGEA doesn't outlaw online poker (note: only Washington state makes online poker specifically illegal). Instead, the UIGEA applies gambling laws to the internet. Because the UIGEA applies to "state law" on gambling, it essentially gives the states some power to regulate commerce.

          So the issue is that state laws do ban poker, even if they don't specifically ban online poker. The states originally meant for those laws to apply to live gambling, but the UIGEA means they apply to online gambling too. So if a state allows poker or even just online poker, then it's legal there.

          I live in New York (and incidentally I am barred only in New York) so I'll use their law as an example: it makes gambling on "games of chance" illegal where the wager/bet was placed in NY state. We know that shouldn't include poker, but they believe it does. The UIGEA applies that to the internet, in theory, but even without the UIGEA, I believe New York would still interpret their own law to ban online poker where the player is in New York. (Under my own interpretation (again not legal advice), online poker is legal in New York because poker is not a "game of chance" and is therefore legal in New York; thus the UIGEA also does not make it illegal).

          In other words, amending or repealing the UIGEA could remove a barrier to online poker but it's really up to the states in the UIGEA context. Again, as I described above, the federal government could just rip the bandaid itself. It's passing the buck if it says that only the states can decide. Now, sure, maybe the federal government wants the states to decide for themselves, but that's different.

          So there are three possibilities for above-ground online poker to come back to New York in particular, and probably most other states (sorry WA):

          1. Sites begin to offer poker under the interpretation that it is not a game of chance and is not illegal under New York law. This is basically underway with some sites but we all know the real goal is to play on Stars et al. If Stars wanted to, they could come back. The issue is that Black Friday made it extremely unlikely they'd take this risk especially since they would be risking the market share they'll enjoy once online poker is unambiguously legal. If Stars started offering online poker in New York and was indicted again, even if they fought the case, they're risking being blacklisted again even once poker is specifically legalized (if that ever happens).

          This would be amazing if we got it because then we would have a global player pool once more instead of the half-measured state player pools where the states control the sites. It would be far better to just have nationwide legality again instead of states taking a cut and therefore exercising control (and not allowing us to play in global player pools).

          2. New York amends its law to clarify that poker is not a game of chance and is therefore not illegal under state law. I would assume they'd be loath to allow live poker outside of regulated casinos, so maybe they'd specify that live raked poker is illegal. But underground games are so prevalent that they will not be controlled. What New York should do but will absolutely never do is allow card rooms to apply for licenses to operate. Then I wouldn't have to drive hours to play live legally...

          3. The U.S. Congress passes a law specifically legalizing online poker, superseding state laws which do otherwise under Congress's constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce.

          TL;DR: It actually isn't a state issue except it sort of is a state issue.


          • #7
            Thanks for posting that. We need to write and call our Federal and State leaders and tell them what we want. Also, Poker Players Alliance needs some support. I am not asking for cash. I am asking that you follow them on Facebook and to follow and retweet their posts on Twitter.


            • #8
              It's really annoying that they still ban poker games based on their moral issues. It's, I want to spend my money the way I want. What's your problem with that? The problem is that people still believe in our government and his window to control our lives and "save" us from sins. This goes worldwide and when I visit Singapore I can't find a good place for playing poker. Fortunately, I've discovered a guide about betting on socer games in Singapore which helped me to choose the best platforms for it. I'm very lucky and usually guess the result of games pretty accurate.
              Last edited by JoeyStyles; 02-16-2021, 06:48 AM.