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Is Online Poker Legal Again?

By Brett Snider, Esq. on May 01, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Internet poker may be back to stay, at least in Nevada, where the first legal online poker website in years launched Tuesday.

But those looking to play a hand or two of virtual Hold 'Em may need to think twice before going all in, as the service is currently only available to Nevada residents, reports the Los Angeles Times.

With new laws allowing for Internet gambling in certain states, what does the future hold for future chipholders?

Nevada Internet Gambling Law

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval signed a bill into law in February that authorized Nevada-based companies to host online gambing for residents of other states, including online poker, Reuters reports.

Several companies have already applied for licenses that permit Nevada residents to gamble online, but this new legislation has attracted companies including casual gaming giant Zynga Inc. to apply for online gaming licenses.

With the possibility of a gambling version of FarmVille looming large in our future, we should ask, is a provision that allows interstate gambling even constitutional?

The Interstate Commerce Clause

Although the federal government has not dipped its toes in the gambling pool since its massive shutdown of poker sites in 2011, the U.S. Constitution gives it the power to regulate interstate commerce under the Commerce Clause.

Since Nevada is going to be collecting taxes from any online gambing which it licenses, a Nevada tax on interstate business may bleed into the domain of the Commerce Clause, making it unconstitutional.

Demanding Personal Information

Constitutional issues aside, Nevada's new legislation has allowed the birth of, which will allow Nevada residents 21 and up to try their luck after giving the company their Social Security and phone numbers, reports the Associated Press.

This added layer of security in identifying legally eligible players may serve not only to keep games secure, but to keep federal regulators off the site's back.

Other States in the Works

New Jersey and Delaware are currently try to pass legislation that will authorize virtual casino-style online gambling, including poker, but are still working out the kinks in the regulations.

Federal recognition and legalization of online gambling is still a long way off, but with major corporations backing interstate gambling, it may not be long before online poker comes (legally) to your state.

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