Playing PartyPoker Online May Mean Five Years In Jail

from the someone's-stock-might-drop dept

We were just talking about the legality of playing poker online. The law is anything but clear, leading many people to believe that playing online poker is legal, even if running an online poker operation in the US is not legal. However, US officials have made it clear in the past that they believe that the Wire Act, banning gambling wagers made over the phone, applies to any online gamblers. But, since millions of people don’t seem to believe that, two politicians have decided to introduce new legislation that makes it clear: playing poker online will be a jailable offense, punishable by up to five years in prison. A similar bill has been introduced a few times before (the first time nearly a decade ago), but one of the backers claims it was shot down by Jack Abramoff lobbying efforts — and seeing as he’s a bit busy lately, that shouldn’t necessarily come into play this time around. No matter what your take on gambling (online or off) may be, it’s hard to see how five years in jail is reasonable punishment.

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Comments on “Playing PartyPoker Online May Mean Five Years In Jail”

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Anonymous Coward says:

PartyPoker are spammers anyway

Oh, they don’t (usually) do it directly: they use
their “affiliates” to do it for them.
But the fact remains that they’ve accumulated
a long history of massive e-mail and Usenet
Which means…anybody uses their services is being
selfish and personally, deliberately supporting spam.

Wolfger (profile) says:

No Subject Given

Gambling is bad for you… so we’ll throw you in prison for 5 years for your own good.
Did I miss something here?

God how I hate the Morality Police in this country.

The question about gambling with fake money is an excellent one. If gambling with fake money remains legal, then the only thing that will change is the business model. Sites will open up in which you pay a fee to play a game, with prizes being awarded to the winners. Looks like a duck, makes money like a duck, but legally quite different, and the profit margin of the casino would increase because fewer people would walk away as winners.

If gambling with fake money is also illegal, how idiotic is that? Doing 5 years hard time for playing a poker *simulation*…

Professor Highbrow says:

Re: No Subject Given

“Gambling is bad for you… so we’ll throw you in prison for 5 years for your own good.
Did I miss something here?

God how I hate the Morality Police in this country.”

And on that day, the Lord looketh down and sayeth it was good; that gambling was fun. –Genesis

Extremely good point…If “real money” which isn’t real after being paid into an account is banned, then people will just pay a subscription fee and redeem “virtual points” for “fabulous gifts and prizes.” Perhaps even a gift certificate to a store, or something. There’s so many ways around it…
Damn those Conservative Freaks!
I’m off to pay the state lottery. Thats OK because the profits go to buying old people diapers or something like that…..

The Esoteric Cleric says:

Re: No Subject Given

“Sites will open up in which you pay a fee to play a game, with prizes being awarded to the winners.”

This already exists (sort of). The dog track by my house gets away with having no limit poker tournaments by “selling” you your starting chips at a fraction of a penny per chip plus your “signup fee”. Then who ever wins gets a “prize.” Since most places have a law saying betting up to some low amount (like 5$) isn’t “gambling” then when you push all in with your “worthless” chips, you’re not actually “betting.”

IT GUY (user link) says:

Re: No Subject Given

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves. ~Abraham Lincoln

What ever happend to beliefs like that? Are the people playing poker online hurting anyone? (besides their own bank account) I mean we do life in the 21st century right? We can rent movies, buy just about anything you can think of, hell you can ever have sex online. I think it is only a natural step that it become possible for one to gamble online. For a supposedly free country, we sure have ALOT of people telling us we cant do ALOT of things that really dont effect anyone but the person doing it. As an adult I feel I can make my own decisions concerning what’s best for me. I dont need uncle sam to do it for me after he finishes robbing me blind.

Agonizing Fury says:

Re: Re: No Subject Given

For a supposedly free country, we sure have ALOT of people telling us we cant do ALOT of things that really dont effect anyone but the person doing it.

Although I agree that online gambling should not be illegal, I have to disagree with you that they are not hurting anyone but themselves. I can tell you from experience that you are wrong. My Wife’s entire family was greatly hurt when her brother, who had collected over $40,000 in gambling debts and commited credit fraud to continue feeding his addiction, decided that the best way out was to end his life.
Now even with that said, as a libertarian, I agree that the government should stop trying to protect us from ourselves by banning things, and try to fix the problem some other way. Perhaps require gambling sites to report people who seem to be spending more time than they should, or have used 20 different credit cards until they decline. Another option would be requiring online gambling sites to post links to organizations that can help people who seem in over their heads.

GABE says:

Re: No Subject Given

That is a very good point…however the more we stand by idly and let the government gradually strip our rights while passing legislationwithout our knowledge or consent..the fact is that our form of “democracy ” is simply slipping away into the underground federal hearings and our nationis slowly but surely ;osing a war on terror to our own government which is attempting to gain total control and assert itself as a police state…we need to stand up and speak for ouf right …loin aclu or something!@!!!lol

GABE says:

Re: No Subject Given

That is a very good point…however the more we stand by idly and let the government gradually strip our rights while passing legislation without our knowledge or consent..the fact is that our form of “democracy ” is simply slipping away into the underground federal hearings and our nation is slowly but surely losing a war on terror to our own government which is attempting to gain total control and assert itself as a police state…we need to stand up and speak for our rights …join aclu or something!@!!!

MJ (user link) says:

Re: Re: Poker Player Alliance

If anyone is serious about wanting to fight for your right to play poker, the Poker Players Alliance is a newly formed entity that is part of the process to fight the passing of legislation to ban online gambling.

I think the debate of whether or not gambling is good or bad is one that will be an incessant one that may never find a resting ground. I believe there are many solid arguments for both sides on the issue of gambling and poker.

Given that I run a website geared directly toward Party Poker, you’d think that I’m simply biased to being pro-poker, but having played poker and knowing so much about the industry, one begins to realize the things that can be fixed. Foremost, most of the movers and shakers in the industry want internet poker to be regulated and monitored by the US government more than anything. It takes care of many gray area issues that have emerged lately and also stops a huge population of Americans from operating in a cloud of quasi-legal state.

The big question to ask, is why would anyone want to make playing online poker a crime that is punishable worse than some violent offenses? There is big money on both sides of the field and each is playing to win..

Dennis says:

Re: Re: tv ad

Some states, like California, don’t consider poker gambling. Poker is not simply a game of chance like slots or even blackjack. You could theoretically win every hand by bluffing, although this is much more difficult online.

I’d have to agree that it probably boils down to lost tax dollars, as there are plenty of other forms of legalized gambling most places (lotto, horse racing, bingo, etc.)

VisiX says:

Re: Re: tv ad

Most of the poker .com sites have a .net equivalent that does not use real money. So, if you go to instead of it should be a nongambling site. They tout these sites as learning sites, but they are really just gateway/stepping stones to the real money sites. So, on TV they just advertise the .net

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: tv ad

Because partypoker.NET is not a gambling site. No money changes hands and there is no fee. BUT, there is also partypoker.COM which is a real money site with pay to play games. The ads on TV are for the free site. The free site advertises the pay site to free game players.

Eitherway, it’s crap like this that makes me want to move to Canada. Stop telling me how I should live America.

Carlton Smith (user link) says:

Re: Re: tv ad

They get away with it by advertising “”, not “”. The first site is an “information” site, and the other a gambling site. Both owned by the same people and closely related.

That said. The government has no business protecting us from ourselves. If we’re stupid enough to blow all our money gambling on line, then we have to pay the price for that ourselves. People are going to gamble, regardless of legality. Why spend taxpayer money incarcerating them also?

chris says:

Re: Re: tv ad

they’re right, it’s not technically gambling. gambling is when you put your real money into a pot, depending on the cards you win or lose real money. Oppose to partypoker, you pay money to enter into a tournament and win or lose. There is no leaving the table with some of your money or leaving with more money without winning the tournament. You’re basically entering to win a contest.

Jeremy says:


I like the comment on “MORALITY POLICE”. Funny. I would also like to add that what we as citizens do with OUR money is OUR business, and nobody elses. And I know this is off the subject but why is PROSTITUTION ILLEGAL?? It’s perfectly free to give away, but when you charge for it it’s illegal. We pay for it anyways, when we buy dinner or a couple of drinks. I remember some comedian mentioned this. George Carlin??maybe

Todd says:

Re: Morality

I think the comidian your talking about is Doug Stanhope. “Vice Cops” It is one of his funniest skits. I quoted part of the skit. It’s off of “Something To Take The Edge Off”

-every vice is already a punishment in its self, there should be no such thing as a vice law. Every vice is only a bad habit and the punishment is inherit in the act. You smoke cigarettes, you get cancer, you die. You don’t need a ticket on top of it. I’ve done every vice there is, and their all punishment in themselves. You gamble you lose your money the house has the edge. It’s a punishment in itself. You watch too much porno, it diminishes your taste for the kind of girls who will actually FUCK YOU!!…….goto jail on top of that is Double Jeopardy and that’s unconstitutional.”

Neon says:

No Subject Given

This is quite funny… not more than 2 months ago my boss almost lost all his money (and a large sum of the company’s money) to party poker online. I begged him to remove it from his computer because I knew they used underhanded advertising techniques but I wasnt sure if they extended as far as spyware. He just kept on going for a long time till he had no money and started crying about how his life was ruined. If this had happend sooner, maybe it could have “scared him straight”.

There’s nothing like the feeling that you are working for a complete idiot… It makes you feel so good about yourself.

MyManMisterC (user link) says:

Addresses for the reps

In case anyone wants to give these guys a piece of their mind, here is their contact info:

Representative Bob Goodlatte

Washington, DC Office:
2240 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-5431
(202) 225-9681 fax

Representative Rick Boucher

2187 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Whateva says:

go police yourself

To all the morality police here, I say fuck off. I don’t want legislation to take away even more freedom just because you can’t take responsibility for your own actions. This is about as ridiculous as sueing a fast food company because you eat too much of their fatty food.

Not all gambling is created equal. Poker involves a lot of skill, and is as entertaining as it is subtle. If you can outlaw online poker, then why not card rooms? They work in EXACTLY the same way, but are perfectly legal. Hell why not outlaw my weekly poker game with my buddies. Go police yourselves assholes.

Whateva says:

Re: Re: go police yourself

Pfft,…Poker is not a game of pure chance dumbass. Ever take a math class? There are various rules which increase or decrease the probability that yours is the winning hand. Try playing it or even just watching it on TV, you might open up that pea brain of yours. Beyond just statistics, it’s also a study in human behaviour. The better you are at understanding people, the better you will do. It is NOT the same gambling as roulette. I’ve never played online, and I haven’t been stupid enough to fall for spam e-mail or viruses. Perhaps you have…? been stupid enough, that is?

The last thing we need is more laws “for our own protection”. Maybe the goverment should monitor every single internet communication to make sure we are all totally protected? It’s morons like you that let the lawmakers justify invading our internet privacy.

Lobo says:

Re: Re: go police yourself

Pure chance?

No skill?

This obviously from someone who has no grasp of the game of poker.

It takes an ENOURMOUS amount of skill and knowledge to win at poker. It’s not simply a matter of “when to hold’em and when to fold’em”

Sorry if you haven’t the abilities…maybe you should stick to lotteries…a tax for people who can’t do math.

Ryan (profile) says:

Re: go police yourself

Last I checked, your weekly poker game with your buddies IS illegal if there’s any real money involved.

Same goes for cardrooms that aren’t run by a licensed casino.

But I do agree.. gambling has it’s own penalty.. losing.

This is just a case of the govt seeing billions of dollars trading hands, and not being able to tax it.

/ how long until we see online poker being used for money laundering?

Anonymous Coward says:

Lottery is done online too.

If they go thru with this and stop online poker because of the Wire Act, then they would have to stop the Lottery as well because your purchase of a ticket is submitted thru an online type of network.

Fare is fare. Can’t stop one form of gambling and let another continue, even if it does help support state governments.

Brandon says:


Did you know that congress has taking are hurricane relief money and use it for there own self to buing car’s and houses with it. Talking about gambling it is bad enough to steal are tax money for these rednick’s in politions and yet that is way we are broke in the USA. Has congress read the ten commandments “Do not steal.’?

That is way we can stand up and vote out these greedy rednick’s out of office.

Gambling is not half has bad has anything else like stealling our money and buing car’s and houses.

Good Night Know

HATE-SPAMMERS (user link) says:

MJ, You're The Biggest Spammer Of Them All!

Notice MJ’s post, two up from mine? Self proclaimed owner of – I wonder if he has anything to do with the thousands of blogs found by typing “ blogspot” into almost any search engine?

Everyone type that in and flag a few of his SPLOGS if you have time. Good luck!

Dewey Cavender says:

online poker

How can federal goverment regulate commerce from co that are licensed in one country ,server in another

which could be changed in very little time.

Why except they are not getting there % of money.

Why try and regulate something that is almost

impossibe to regulate.

I would like for the poker sites to be made to have some large good company like warner commincations to come in an make sure software is legit.

But making criminals out of large numbers of people is

about as likely to work as trying to stop drugs which

I would like to see stoped ,but not working!!!!

Lets use a little brain power and look at issues

and address the problems with online gambling !

Wake up ,people a consevative that voted for

Ralph rather than keep going as we are ,knowing waste of vote !

but at least making statement.

Anonymous Coward says:

Poker vs Violent crimes

5 years for playing poker online. That is about the same amount of time that rapists get. If I go and rob someone and beat them up I’ll get less time than 5 years. If I just feel like going out and beating someone up for nothing I’ll get less time. My brother robbed a bank once and he got less time.

Check it out…

Shaun says:

Home Games

I can’t speakfor every state, but weekly home games aren’t necessarily illegal. In Michigan, a home game is perfectly legal, provided that every penny that comes into the game is paid back out to he players. That simply means that whoever’s running the game cannot charge fee’s or hold back part of the prize pool. Anybody can hold a tournament in Michigan with as many players the please as long as all money is put into the prize pool.

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