Most online gambling websites have pulled out of the United States market, out of fear of prosecution from the Justice Department. Though there is no federal law banning online poker or any form of online gambling, the Justice Department treats the UIGEA, passed in 2006, as a de facto ban. The government uses that law to go after any gambling websites or financial institutions who are involved in gambling transactions with American citizens. Now one poker room has found a loophole and is legally operating in the U.S.
Chilipoker recently began offering a service for American customers that allows them to play online poker for real money. And it is 100% legal. Chilipoker is offering a “subscription-based service.” Basically how it works is that instead of the players paying for each hand of poker, they pay a monthly subscription fee. They then play the games themselves for free, with winners earning cash prizes.
Though the U.S. is growing more and more progressive and anti-business, there’s nothing illegal about operating a website that requires a paid subscription. There’s also nothing illegal about giving away cash prizes. The fact that the website features poker games is irrelevant. It could be solitaire, checkers, World of Warcraft, fantasy football or whatever.
Right now I’m sure the DOJ is looking for a way to prosecute Chilipoker. Just as they found a way to sue a state (Arizona) that made the federal government look incompetent, I’m sure they’re searching for a way to prosecute a poker website that is making them look like fools. Like Arizona, Chilipoker has broken no laws, but that doesn’t stop progressive governments from flexing their muscles and exerting their control over foes. It will be interesting to see how this shapes up and whether other gambling operators follow Chilipoker’s lead to enter largely neglected the U.S. market.