Is Online Poker Gone Forever?

On Friday, the Department of Justice shut down the three largest online poker websites and charged 11 poker bigwigs with bank fraud, illegal gambling and money laundering. The online poker world has been thrown into turmoil, and hardcore players are being forced to go outside and interact with humans.

You've got to feel for the players who have thousands of dollars stuck in accounts with Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and Absolute Poker, now that these companies have been accused of concocting an "elaborate criminal fraud scheme," by the DoJ. But everyone should have seen this coming after congress passed a law in 2006 forbidding financial institutions from engaging in online gambling-related transactions. This forced any online poker operations serving U.S. customers to engage in a complex shell game of offshore banking, and forced poker players into ever more arcane payment schemes. Online poker advocates' argument that poker isn't actually gambling because it is "skill-based" was so weak.

Maybe the crackdown will spur mass migration of poker players to Washington D.C., which has just legalized online poker inside its borders. This would certainly add some color to an already colorful place! Some say this crackdown will just bolster efforts to legalize online poker; the people who compulsively clicked their money away for hours are probably well suited to flooding members of congress with thousands of pissed off emails. Seems weird that online poker isn't legal throughout the country already. If wasting time and money on the Internet is a crime, then we should all be sent to Rikers Island immediately.

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