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Poker and online gambling
Poker and online gambling | PATRICK KOVARIK/Getty Images

Poker and online gambling

Poker is viewed by many as a game rather than a sport, although poker tournaments have shown up on sports cable channels. However you characterize it, poker's popularity is growing. It's a particular favorite of online players.

For many years, online gambling, including poker, was the target of federal prosecutors. Under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, Internet gambling sites were effectively shut down. The biggest strike against poker came in 2011 when an FBI sting operation closed the three largest online poker sites for violating internet gambling prohibitions.

Online gambling still not legal nationwide

While some states have introduced legislation to allow online gambling on their soil, others have voiced strong opposition to it. Attorneys general from 10 states have asked Trump administration officials to push for a federal prohibition of all forms of online gambling, not just sports betting. Meanwhile, supporters to legalize gambling nationwide continue to lobby Congress.

Three states still set their own online gambling laws. So far Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware have officially legalized online gambling, including poker playing.

The reason for this tug of war at state and federal levels? Money plays a big role. Dr. Kahlil Philander of the University of Nevada Las Vegas has researched the U.S. online poker market and says it could be worth more than $2 billion a year, while another trade organization expects revenues from all forms of online gambling to hit $4 billion by 2020.

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