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Online Poker's Next Round

Pete Springer/OPB

Last month the Department of Justice shut down online poker’s big three companies: Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and Absolute Poker. These sites were indicted on fraud and laundering charges. Although no players who used these sites were charged with a crime, they are feeling the hurt. More than 50,000 Americans who are professional online poker players are now unemployed.

But is online poker illegal? This seemingly simple question is hard to answer. At the heart of the debate is another question, one that Attorney General Eric Holder won’t answer: Is poker a game of skill or luck? A recent study, by Freakonomics co-author Steven Levitt, argues that winning in poker takes a lot of skill.

Lobbyists are pushing lawmakers to agree. The U.S. makes up the largest marketshare of worldwide online poker players. And it’s a multi-billion dollar industry some legislators want legalized, regulated and taxed.

Should the U.S. legalize online poker? Do you play online poker? Is poker a game of skill or chance?


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