For much of the past year, we’ve told you how online poker has surged in response to the lack of live events. How odd is it to think that the practice of playing poker online for real money in the United States still sits in a vague legal position? The good news is that a court decision this week seemed to remove one of the toughest obstacles to online poker that was still stubbornly standing in its way.
The decision to which we are referring came from the First Circuit Court. It upheld an earlier decision in the state by a district court that was laid down by a United States District Court. Both of these came on behalf of the state of New Hampshire against the United States government, and they indirectly cleared the way for real money online poker.
Online Poker Gets a Legal Boost
What brought us to this point? Well, way back in 1961, the Federal Wire Act was signed into law in a governmental effort to curb sports gambling as aided by organized crime.
But the language of the law could be interpreted as a ban on online gambling as a whole, even though the internet wasn’t even a gleam in the eye of the most fervent technological minds at the time. Once online gambling arose, the question of how the Wire Act affected it quickly rose to the forefront.
The suits were a response to a Justice Department memo from 2018 that interpreted the Wire Act as pertaining to online lotteries and casino gambling. But both the district court and the circuit court decided that the intent of the Wire Act was to curb gambling on sports. The argument that online casino gambling could be included under that law was rejected.
What does that mean exactly? Well, the decision basically paves the way for states to be more proactive about legalizing online casino gambling, which obviously includes poker, on their level. And they can do that without having to worry about the federal government putting the clamps down.
Of course, there could conceivably be further appeals. But that seems unlikely. The recent presidential election seems to indicate a change in policy.
The original memo that caused New Hampshire’s actions came under the Donald Trump administration. But now that Joe Biden is in office, it seems likely that the decision will be left to stand. Biden isn’t likely to be too keen on fighting for something that was a priority to Trump.
Hence, the field is now wide open for states to start. This could mean that players could eventually be able to play across state lines as shared pools come into play. And more and more states could be open to legalizing online poker and other casino gambling within their borders.
In other words, you don’t need to be a legal expert to see that this is a big positive for online poker players. While the UIGEA is still a bit of a nuisance, it is essentially undercut by states who make online poker legal. Right now, it looks like a train rushing downhill, which is the right direction for those who love online poker.
Kid Poker Strikes Back
In the middle of the week, it looked like Doug Polk had built a decisive advantage in the grudge match of the century against Daniel Negreanu. But as has been typical of the rollercoaster action in this battle, once one player makes a big move, the other responds. The session on Friday has given Negreanu just a glimmer of hope, although still just a glimmer.
After winning sessions on Monday and Wednesday of this past week, Polk looked like he had finally turned the lights out on the underdog (which is Negreanu, because of his lack of experience in the format compared to Polk). In fact, the Wednesday win was for nearly $300,000, which put him over that $1-million marker in terms of the lead.
Considering that the match had already reached the three-quarter marker of the expected 25,0000 hands after that Wednesday rout, things looked pretty dire for Negreanu. But to his credit, he didn’t hang his head. And he came out Friday with a vengeance.
By the end of the session, Negreanu had surged to a win of over $390,000. That was the largest single-session victory to this point in the match. And it came when Kid Poker needed it the most, because even a small loss in the session would have put him all but out of it.
To be realistic, Negreanu still has a long way to go to have a shot at winning this thing because, simply put, the clock is ticking. After Friday’s match, there are more than 6,000 hands to play. With his deficit now at over $612,000, he needs to be on point in every single session from here on out—or at least churn out some more huge winning sessions in the vein of Friday’s romp.
This week could go a long way in deciding where we’re at with these two combatants, who have really provided some excellent entertainment with this format. At the end of it, one of two options could be Daniel Negreanu still keeping his comeback dreams alive. And the other option is Doug Polk slamming the door on that and coasting down the stretch.