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Are your funds safe at offshore poker sites?

Especially in recent years, online poker in the United States has been in the news for the wrong reasons. Facing a number of legal actions by the US Department of Justice, the industry seems to have a bit of a black mark in the minds of some players. In this article, we will examine the existing laws affecting online poker and its legality in the United States.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act

After several attempts to criminalize internet gambling operators through legislation, Congress attached a provision onto a SAFE Port Act which regulated port security. The legislation was called the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) and was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 13th, 2006.

The UIGEA does not criminalize online poker players or the act of gambling online, but instead goes after gambling site operators and payment processors that process online gambling transactions.
The passage of the UIGEA quickly eliminated some of the larger online poker rooms from the US market. Many companies, such as Party Gaming, are publicly traded. Since their shareholders could be charged criminally for crimes committed by the company, they immediately withdrew from the US market. The law changed the online poker landscape and gave more power to rooms that stayed in the US market.

Black Friday

On April 15th, 2011, the United States District Court of the Southern District of New York unsealed an indictment implicating PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet, along with several payment processors. They seized domain names, froze bank accounts and charged 11 defendants with violation of the UIGEA. Full Tilt and PokerStars were given their .com domain names back after they agreed to leave the US market. Still, even after all these indictments came down, many online poker sites still continued to service US players.