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Thanks to the "Black Friday" of internet poker in April 2011, betting with real money in online poker games has become a bit of a challenge for some U.S. residents.
On "Black Friday," the U.S. Department of Justice took a hard line on online poker and other online games, drawing a proverbial line in the sand and seizing the domain names of the largest online gaming websites, essentially making them unavailable to online players in the United States.
The Justice Department's actions left avid online poker players in the United States with only two options if they wished to continue their poker-playing habit: remove themselves from their couches and visit a casino to play a live game of poker, or log onto one of the many international online poker websites that cater to U.S. residents and play illegally.
While playing online poker in and of itself is not illegal in the United States, placing bets online through a U.S. financial institution is illegal under gaming laws in most of the United States. Some players became creative in their online betting, using prepaid credit cards, wire transfers and money orders so that they could continue to place their bets online. Doing so allowed them to skirt U.S. gaming regulations.
As of 2013, there were three states in the United States whose legislatures enacted laws which would allow online poker players to again legally place their bets using U.S. financial institutions: New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada. Residents who live within the borders of those states are permitted to legally gamble with money held in U.S. financial institutions without fear of repercussion from the federal government.
Even those from other states who choose to place bets online in ways which skirt federal gaming laws should be wary of which sites to which they are entrusting their money. Some sites make it hard for players to cash in on their winnings, while others have been accused of outright financial fraud. Some online poker websites are run smoothly, creating a pleasant experience for all players, while others are run poorly. Prior to placing any bets, players should research the site they plan to use and make sure it is reputable.
Quality online poker websites not only offer quick payouts to winners, but also provide a variety of poker games. Some sites will offer bonuses to entice new players, or to reward longtime players who continue to return to the site to place their bets.
Online poker websites - particularly those with cash payouts for winners - require players to create an account before being allowed to place any bets or play any games.
Players who choose to use any online poker website should heed a word of caution: because the regulations for online gaming are continually changing in the United States, a website which accepts U.S. players today may not accept them tomorrow. So it is wise not to invest too much money into a site that may not be available for your usage a week or a month from now.
Playing online poker with real money is a risky business. Only players who are aware of the risks - as well as the benefits - should consider it.
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