The fact that the US government has reached settlement agreements with PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker indicates that there might be hopes for legalized online poker in the US after all. The two online poker companies have reached an agreement with the US government, according to which Full Tilt Poker players will get back their poker deposits. In exchange, the charges against the two companies will be dropped although neither of the two has pleaded guilty. According to the terms of this agreement, PokerStars has also agreed to stay out of the US online poker market till the US legalizes and regulates this industry.

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Online gambling was almost legal in the US before 2006 although the Wire Act of 1961 made it illegal to transmit betting information through telecommunication services. Owing to the comparatively friendly atmosphere in the US, a number of companies attempted to grab a share of the market. Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker, and PokerStars become very popular and continued to enjoy a considerable portion of the US online poker market till the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed in 2006.

In spite of the UIGEA, the above-mentioned online poker companies continued operating in the US till, on April 15 last year, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) cracked down upon them, seized their domain names, and charged their executive officers on multiple counts of illegal gambling, money laundering, and bank fraud. Now, Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars have reached an agreement with the US government, according to the terms of which PokerStars will refund Full Tilt Poker’s players and Full Tilt Poker will give all its assets to the US government, after which PokerStars will acquire these assets from the US government. In exchange for this, the US government will drop its case against the two companies although neither company has pleaded guilty. The deal also permits PokerStars to return to the US market as soon as the US government legalizes online poker.
Just as the DoJ was filing charges against the above-mentioned three poker companies, it also announced that the Wire Act of 1961 no longer applies to poker and casino games and that states can legalize and regulate online poker within their territories. Individual US states, particularly Nevada, grabbed this opportunity to create a regulatory framework for online poker and online casino gaming at the state-level and a number of states are now following in the footsteps of Nevada.

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