Recent decisions in Massachusetts appear to have set the ball rolling for the recovery of online poker in the United States. Barney Frank’s efforts in Washington are beginning to bear fruit, and a number of landmark cases deeming poker a game of skill have taken place. Overall, poker’s stock appears to be rising once again, after over two years of UIGEA dominated depression.
One of the states hit hardest by the global recession, California, is renewing its efforts to officially legalize online poker. The multi-billion dollar poker industry is a lucrative field left largely untapped by American business and government. With their finances in dire straits, California have decided the time is right for online poker to return to the state. Despite the seemingly negative stance taken by federal government to this point, the new midnight regulations introduced by former President Bush meant that it was up to each state to to determine what constituted “illegal online gambling”. This leaves California free to remove poker from the blacklist and introduce it as a taxed, regulated industry. However, things may not go entirely according to plan. An unnamed source told Gambling911 that “the Indian casinos will fight tooth and nail against it.”
More positive news has emerged from the spiritual home of poker, Nevada, with the head of the Nevada Gaming Control Board making positive claims about the future of online poker in the U.S. He believes that relatively minor clarifications to the UIGEA would enable to immediate introduction of online poker as a fully fledged industry in the state. He stated that, if online poker were to become legal, his organization would set about regulating it, just as they do for bricks and mortar casinos.
While legal online poker may only be a pipe dream for some, the small town of Lisbon, Ohio has made that dream into a reality. Their legislative body have placed a 1.5% tax on poker earnings equivalent to other sources of income. This move effectively validates and legalizes online poker for the community, providing a shining example of the way forward. The new rules are part of a project to update the town’s tax laws to be more in line with modern society. Lisbon solicitor Virginia Babcock said that “the last time our tax code was updated online gambling really wasn’t a factor.”
Finally, a group of amateur poker players who had their home game raided by the local law enforcement, are gathering together a stellar cast of expert witnesses for their upcoming trial. The four men, from Charleston, South Caronlina, are attempting to prove that poker is a game of skill and that, therefore, it is not illegal under state laws. The laws themselves have been the subject of much controversy, having been left largely unchanged since their creation in 1802. They effectively bans “any game with cards or dice” and are viewed by many as outdated, if not unconstitutional.
To help argue their case, poker legend Mike Sexton has been brought on board as an expert witness. Accompanying him will be statistics professor Robert Hannum, who successfully demonstrated the the skillful nature of poker in a similar high profile case in Colorado. One of the of the four men accused stated that he believes he has a “constitutional right to play cards.” Whether or not the judge agrees with him will be discovered on Friday when the case goes to trial.