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Relevance Of Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act Questioned

Earlier this year, an indictment was unsealed against three of the biggest online poker operators in the world. When executives from PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker were indicted, questions immediately arose as to whether or not the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act would hold up in court.

On Thursday, US District Judge Lewis Kaplan asserted that it is unlikely he will throw out the entire indictment against two men, who's attorneys have filed a motion of dismissal. Lawyers for John Campos and Chad Elie filed the motion, claiming that poker was not a game that was covered in the UIGEA.

"I think it's extraordinarily unlikely that the entire indictment will be dismissed," said Judge Kaplan, at the end of the days hearing on the matter. The lawyers argued that poker is not one of the games that it would be a crime to process payments of under the UIGEA. The judge, at first glance, did not seem to be swayed by the argument.

Instead, according to several legal analysts, it is likely the case will go on and the attorneys will have to show why poker should not have been included in the illegal online gambling genre. The UIGEA made it illegal for financial institutions to process payments to and from online gambling sites. The law, however, does not specify which type of online gambling is illegal.

From the moment it was created, lawmakers, such as retiring Representative Barney Frank from Massachusetts, have claimed that the law was vague and would never hold up in court. The defendants in the current case are set to test that theory, with the trial scheduled to begin in March.

In the time since the indictment, PokerStars has repaid American customers their funds that were left in their accounts when the company stopped servicing American gamblers. Full Tilt has yet to repay their customers, although the company is close to being sold and the potential owners have spoken with the US Justice Department about returning US players' funds.

Several bills are circulating through Congress that would make the UIGEA void. US lawmakers have started to see the error of their ways in recent months, with millions of online poker players demanding that the current laws be changed.

US gaming companies have started the process of preparing for a world of regulated online gambling in the country. Caesars has already launched a couple of online casinos in jurisdictions where Internet gaming is regulated, while Wynn Resorts and MGM have partnered with foreign online gaming companies with the hope of being ready when the US laws change.

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