Wednesday, Aug 22, 2012 US Judge Rules Poker is a Game of Skill. Now What?
Since the UIGEA was passed in the United States in 2006, the big argument has been whether or not poker was indeed a game of skill.
That question has been answered as a federal judge ruled on Tuesday that poker was indeed a game of skill.
Poker Junkie blogger Compncards has reviewed the 120-page ruling and shares what he thinks this means for the future of online poker in the United States.
Huge Victory - But...
Today's ruling by Judge Jack Weinstein is clearly the biggest victory for the game of poker in the legal system since 2006.
Poker being declared a game of skill and not subject to the Illegal Gambling Business Act (IGBA) will certainly be seen as a huge hurdle cleared in the eventual legalization of poker at the federal level.
However, the judge was clear to point out that while poker does not violate the IGBA, the running of the poker room did indeed violate New York's gambling laws and they could have prosecuted the operators of the room under those laws.
In short, poker could still fall under state laws regarding gambling and could effectively be still prosecuted as gambling.
With that said, expect anyone that is prosecuted for a poker-related crime to point out this ruling in any defense.
While this is a huge victory, the battle wages on.
Begin the Countdown to Legalized Online Poker
Write down the day August 21st, 2012, as this will be the day likely pointed to in the future as the day that the process for online poker legalization started to escalate.
The biggest argument for years has been whether or not the game of poker is a game of skill and now that there is an official legal opinion on this, expect supporters of online poker to really gain some momentum in the battle.
Online poker will not be legalized in 2012. However, sometime in 2013 you should see the first serious bill go to a vote and sometime during 2013 we may actually see the game legalized.
With that said, it likely will not be until 2014 that we can play online poker legally in the United States.
Apologies in advance to Utah residents as you have already opted out. U-haul has rates starting at 19.99 per day plus mileage though.
Adverse Effect on State Legislation?
With this new ruling regarding the game of poker as a game of skill, one has to wonder the impact that this will have on state legalization of online poker.
Now that poker has been ruled to not be covered by the IGBA, the next logical course is to assume that the UIGEA will face a challenge in the very near future regarding whether it covers poker.
Will states that were considering the measure slow their roll and wait to see what happens at the federal level or will they speed up the process in order to become one of the first states to get poker legalized in the US?
I could see some states taking a "wait and see" approach and see whether they can just opt in a federal solution. If that happens, today's ruling could actually slow down the progress of state online poker legalization.
Today was a huge day for our game as we now have a legal precedent to point to for all future challenges by and against the game of poker.
It is going to mean the immediate legalization of online poker, but it will get the ball rolling for what should have happened years ago.