If I had a dollar for every time I have been emailed this question, or seen it come up in a forum, I would never have to work again. This is a question that depending on who you ask, you will get several different responses. The discussion of law and the legality of being a poker affiliate is very tricky for several reasons, many of which you’ll read below.
I have written on this topic before, and like always I will preface my following remarks by stating that neither myself or Poker Affiliate Listings are in the business to give legal advice and that this should not be taken as such. To get legal advice you should seek an attorney in the jurisdiction you are doing business.
Okay, now that we have that out of the way, let’s dive right in. One of the difficulties in determining if online poker, or even online gambling is illegal is that every country has a different view on the subject. I cannot speak on behalf of other countries, but to my knowledge in the U.S. there are no laws that specifically state being an affiliate or “marketing” for an online poker site is illegal.
Nonetheless, the issue of legality is still a gray area even amongst the top legal scholars and attorney’s throughout the world. If you queried 10 attorneys on the legality of being an online poker affiliate, it is almost certain that each would have a different interpretation. With that said. We are back at square one….it’s a gray area.
Although there are specific pieces of U.S. legislation that we can reference when examining the legality of being a poker affiliate. Two of the most popular pieces of legislation in the poker affiliate industry are the UIGEA and the Federal Wire Act of 1961. In neither of these pieces of legislation does it state that being an affiliate marketer or working with an online gaming operator is illegal. Two things to also keep in mind are that when the Federal Wire Act of 1961 was written, there was no such thing as internet gaming. Likewise in respect to the UIGEA, there is a current battle going on in the U.S. government to have it overturned.
If a U.S. affiliate were to get into legal trouble for promoting online poker through an affiliate program, it would more than likely be for other crimes such as tax evasion or money laundering. It is highly unlikely that a U.S. affiliate would be singled out for being an internet marketer or having a banner on their website promoting an multi-million dollar poker site.
Another important fact I like to bring up when discussing the legality of being a poker affiliate is this; Since the inception of poker affiliate programs, not a single affiliate has ever been arrested or charged with the crime of “being a poker affiliate marketer”.
The reason why online gaming is entrenched in such a gray area is because the following. Every online poker operator is licensed and operating legally in the jurisdictions where they are incorporated. Keep in mind that in some countries, online gaming is licensed and 100% legal. So although a poker player may be sitting in their homes in the U.S. playing online poker; the actual game and all the money transactions are taking place on a server that is physically located in a legal jurisdiction by a company that has a legitimate gaming license. The internet itself is not regulated by any individual country.
Combining this with the fact that there are no laws on any books in the U.S. that specifically mention poker affiliate marketing as being a crime, I personally do not have any worries. There are thousands of U.S. based poker affiliates. I can’t imagine the United States Department of Justice going after a college kid making a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars a month through poker affiliate programs.
Likewise it doesn’t even make sense for the U.S. government to go after the legitimate affiliates who are making heaps of money each month and paying their taxes on time. If the government wanted to make a statement or go after online poker, they would more than likely go after the actual operators and online poker rooms that accept U.S. players. And even this has never happened.
Again if you have specific legal questions, please seek counsel in the jurisdiction you are doing business within as every area has different laws. The views and opinion sexpressed in this article are just that, “views and opinions” and have no legal bearing.