Article — Internet Gambling

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Get your poker face on. Internet gambling may be coming to your state—or not, depending on which expert you believe.

At the heart of the question is the Interstate Wire Act of 1961. Also known as the Federal Wire Act, this US law makes it illegal to place bets or wagers, or receive money or credit from bets or wagers, or pass information to assist in the placing of bets or wagers, using a wire communication facility.

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During the intervening years, there has been much wrangling over interpretation of the law. In 2009 and 2010, New York and Illinois asked the US Department of Justice to clarify how the Wire Act affected the sale of lottery tickets over the Internet. In response, the department issued an opinion that certain lottery ticket sales did not violate the Wire Act.

While the opinion did not change the official federal government stance prohibiting internet gambling, other states faced with revenue shortfalls took note, and are considering bills to allow some form of internet betting. The frontrunner of choice is poker.

Why? In countries where online gambling is legal, some estimates of net proceeds exceed $30 billion annually, and estimates of income from poker alone reach $6 billion annually.

However you feel about placing wagers online or off, there’s one sure bet: Gambling is big business.


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