DOJ Ruling Could Facilitate Internet Gaming

2012 may be a banner year for internet bingo players. Since 2006 many Americans have been shut out of their favorite internet bingo and gaming sites. Most bingo sites based in the UK ban American players leaving them at the mercy of unregulated gaming sites. A recent ruling by the US Justice Department has opened the door for states to offer internet gaming and lotteries to residents. The DOJ memo also provoked an argument within the internet gaming industry how to legalize internet gambling. Poker alone generates over $6 billion annually and cash strapped states are looking for new revenue streams making internet gaming extremely attractive.

The DOJ memo sent gambling stocks higher but players that have been shut out of internet poker and gambling sites since last April want the games to restart and could care less who profits. Poker player Brian Boyko stated “I don’t like this legal limbo. Is it legal, or is it illegal?” Boyko has been playing at a small offshore gaming site since executives from PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker were accused of illegally processing funds related to internet gaming. The DOJ also seized the domains and assets of the poker sites and one online bingo site. After the DOJ actions it became extremely difficult for American players to find gaming sites accepting players from the US.

New Jersey State Senator Raymond Lesniak is trying to make internet gambling legal in the state and has cited the DOJ memo. Lesniak said he will try to get legislation to Governor Chris Christie’s desk sometime next week. Lesniak stated “We can be the Silicon Valley of Internet gaming. It’s the wave of the future.” Internet poker was booming in the US despite the vague 2006 law that forbids banks and financial institutions from processing gaming related transactions. The law is not clear about what forms of gaming are illegal leading to confusion between state and federal regulators. Despite the law the United States is the world’s largest internet bingo market and the world’s largest internet video poker market.

In 2010 Illinois and New York officials asked the DOJ whether the wire act or the 2006 law would prevent them from selling online lottery tickets. Last week the DOJ said that the wire act only prevents sports wagers and that all other wagers are legal. Some gaming experts believe the recent ruling could pave the way for legal internet bingo and other forms of online gambling.