Some online poker sites block people from playing while they’re within the United States due to legal repercussions. Ever since the infamous “Black Friday” in April 2011, major online operators were forced to withdraw from the country due to the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA).
Many players also decided to relocate to other countries to continue to have access to these sites online poker since as just a handful of states in America offer legalized online poker games. However, those who could not leave have been faced with a tough decision between quitting online poker for good, playing on unauthorized sites that cannot match the now-forbidden ones in terms of value and guarantees, or simply use a virtual private network (VPN) to continue playing online. The last option appears to be the safest choice for some players.
The use of a VPN allows players to conceal their location and still play even while they’re within the US borders, clearly defying the rules and terms of service of these major sites, but should this be considered cheating?
The Debate
Canadian poker pro and poker hall of famer Daniel Negreanu recently tweeted about the subject and asked for some views from the poker community.  The six-time World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet winner compared the use of VPNs to some unlawful poker-playing practices, such as playing poker in jurisdictions where it is illegal.
Kid Poker admitted that he grew up in Toronto playing unauthorized poker games and went on record to state that he does not believe using a VPN can be classified as cheating. Given Negreanu’s reputation and influence in the poker world, his remarks caused a big debate on social media.
Negreanu then put out a survey on Twitter to find out the poker community’s take on the matter. Of the 15,919 respondents, 76 percent do not think using a VPN to play online poker is cheating, while 24 percent think otherwise.
Poker Community Reacts
Daniel Negreanu’s tweet ignited a debate on the matter with several poker players also sharing their opinion. Niall Farrell was among those who share a similar view with Negreanu, arguing that using a VPN does not necessarily cheat other players, provided they are playing using their own account. Farrell has no problem with US-based players using VPN as long as they’re not playing via a foreign or a “burner” account.
Chris Kruk’s opinion is a contradiction to both Negreanu and Farrell’s views. Kruk, also a Canadian, thinks the players who use VPNs gain some sort of an unfair advantage over those deciding to play from an unfamiliar location to avoid breaking the law.
While the discussion managed to extract a lot of thoughts from players who took a stand on both sides of the argument, some are taking issue with Negreanu’s moral stance as a whole. American sportswriter and columnist Norman Chad took a swipe at for stating that using a VPN should not be considered as cheating.
One more issue that has arisen out of the discussion is the differentiation between those who play using a VPN under their own account and those who play via a new burner account when based in the US. The general consensus is that it is more acceptable to use a VPN than a burner account or a fake account.
Using A VPN Is Illegal
The debate eventually turned into an argument on moral principles but the key point that must be emphasized is that a player who uses a VPN to gain access to an online poker website in the United States may or may not be cheating but he or she is definitely breaking the law and doing something illegal. That comes with a consequence that the player must be willing to accept.
Negreanu has made his thoughts clear on the matter. He says players using a VPN are doing so on their own risk. They are not in any way affecting other players. If in the end they get caught, they will ultimately pay the price and face the law.  Negreanu elaborated on his views on this subject through a post on his blog which contains detailed arguments which you can check out here.

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