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The US Vs Online Gambling I

By: Kenneth Bateman

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The 2006 World Series of Poker provided an excellent opportunity for Internet poker sites to advertise their web presence to the public at large. The Full Tilt Poker Lounge at the Rio in Las Vegas, the home of the WSOP championship tournament, was one example of the swank hospitality suites set up to promote online poker games.

Potential customers are invited to learn the ropes of internet poker by playing free games where no money changers hands. However, although many of these online gambling sites offer other betting options in addition to poker, those options are no longer promoted at the poker hospitality suites because online sports betting is illegal in the United States.

Currently, there is a convoluted controversial debate in Congress regarding the business of Internet gambling as it occurs in the U.S. During the 2006 WSOP tournament run for instance,, an internet casino and sports book based in Costa Rica had planned to host the biggest Internet gambling conference ever held at Wynn Las Vegas. The conference was to be chaired by Bodog’s founder and chief executive, Calvin Ayre. Ayre is high profile entrepreneur who has appeared on the cover of Forbes “Billionaires” issue and was featured in People magazine’s “Hottest Bachelors” issue as well.

Ayre cancelled the conference primarily because of the arrest of David Carruthers, at a Texas airport. Carruthers was (he has since been fired) the chief operating officer of Bentonsports PLC, a company that owns a number of online sports books and casinos, and launched a successful public stock offering in London in 2004.

Carruthers arrest was made because he represented an organization that accepted bets from gamblers in the U.S. Under the Federal Wire Act – a rule established in the 1960s designed to close down mafia-run bookmaking operations in the United States –that, as defined by the U.S. Department of Justice, rules that all forms of Internet gambling are illegal.

At least two U.S. courts have upheld the Federal Wire Act, confirming that the Act is violated when any type of gambling is conducted to/from the U.S. via the internet. However, one court’s decision could become a path to legality for online poker in particular, since that court’s verdict asserts that the Wire Act applies specifically to sports betting and not other forms of gambling.

With that court’s decision as a basis for argument, some legal experts and spokespersons for Internet poker sites are saying that Internet casinos and poker sites are different from their sports-betting counterparts.

Meanwhile, Bodog’s hospitality suite which promotes the company’s online poker site is open and entertaining at the Rio as is the lounge for, a London-based site owned by a publicly traded company. Neither lounge makes any mention of online sports betting.

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Kenneth Bateman writes numerous articles on the subject of online casinos. To read more of his articles on the best casinos online.

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