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Poker and online gambling
Poker and online gambling © taylor/Shutterstock.com

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

States are still allowed, however, to set their own online gambling laws. So far Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware have officially legalized online gambling, including poker playing.

At the national level, legislation has been introduced in past congressional sessions to legalize online gambling in general. Although those measures did not advance, supporters continue to lobby Congress.

The reason for this shift at state and federal levels? Once again, it's money. 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.

It's unclear whether recent state actions against fantasy sports operations like DraftKings and FanDuel will help or hurt the overall online gambling effort. The companies and their millions of fans say participation is in skill-based games. However, Attorneys General in several states, most notably New York and Nevada, have determined the online sites are illegal gambling and barred operation within their borders.

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