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Legal Online Poker in the US by 2012?

Several recent developments have increased the odds that there may be legal online poker options in the US in 2012, particularly on the state level in areas including Nevada. Several states have been mulling over the prospect of offering intra-state online casino and poker sites, while a recent ruling from the US Department of Justice clarified its stance on activities made illegal by the Wire Act passed all the way back in 1961.

The state of Nevada has approved rules and regulations that now allow it to quickly implement online poker sites if the legal situation in the US changes to allow it. In 2012 the state of Nevada could continue to stand pat and wait for a federal law allowing online poker to be passed or instead choose to take matters into its own hands and launch its own online poker sites for state residents.

The regulations address issues such as requiring online sites to have enough funds on all hands to pay back players at any time (hopefully avoiding another Full Tilt debacle) as well as checks and guards to prevent underage gambling and preventing sites from extending credit to players. The main operator of the sites would also have to be a Nevada casino company, with Boyd Gaming and Caesars reportedly already applying for licenses.

As far as developments on the federal level, the US Department of Justice announced in late December that a previous opinion handed down in September by Assistant US Attorney General Virginia Seitz found that the Wire Act only applied to sporting events, and not other online betting activities such as lotteries or online poker sites.

Some states have been hesitant to pursue their own intra-state online poker offerings due to fear that it could be considered illegal under the Wire Act, so the clarification of the law could be the nudge some states need to pursue offering online poker sites within their own state borders.

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