The legality of online poker in the U.S. is one of the gray areas of law. What I mean by this is there is no clear and concise answer as to how governmental entities are going to treat those who engage in operating and in your case playing online poker.
A little over two years ago the U.S. Justice Dept. reversed a long held position against online gambling and opened the door to allow states to permit online gambling. That reversal came in opinion that addressed online lotteries, but it opened the door for states to allow Internet poker and other forms of online betting that do not involve sports.
In August of 2012 a New York federal judge granting defendant's motion to dismiss
a previous indictment for conspiring to operate an illegal poker club in New York based upon the court's finding that poker was a "game of skill." And as a game of skill is not covered under the Illegal Gambling Business Act. That decision is currently under appeal. The federal district court
decision does not carry as much weight when arguing legal precedent in other jurisdictions as an Appellate
Court decision would. Currently it my understanding that federal government has backed off from prosecuting poker games, but that could change depending upon the decision issued by the Court of Appeals.
The Nevada games are played contained within the state of Nevada and do not cross state lines, so they are permitted. The Bovada site is located in Kahnawake, Canada and may depending upon how the courts decide be subject to prosecution.
The operators are generally more likely to targeted for prosecution than the players. But players are still at risk. Until the pending case works it way through the system. It would be advisable to not play online poker games in cross state or international boundaries. While no timeline has been set on the pending case, I would suspect that the court appeals would issue a decision within the next 6-12 months. That decision could be appealed to US Supreme Court. But the a Court of Appeals decision will do more to settle the issue than the District Court decision.
The risk you face is that you could be criminally prosecuted, also you risk losing your money if the casino fails to pay the winnings. I know several individuals who have lost money when out the country casinos failed to pay winnings after the federal government took action to shut down or block the sites from operating in the United States.
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