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Timeline: Internet Poker and the Law

In just a decade, online poker has grown into a multi-billion-dollar global industry despite questions about its legality. In the United States, it has sparked a fierce legal debate as the Justice Department has waged a campaign against illegal Internet gambling transactions and proponents have pushed for federal licensing and regulation. A look at the short history of online gambling follows. Also: Catching the Cheaters »

1995
The first online casinos appear.
1996
June 10: After two failed bids to bring casinos to the Kahnawake reservation near Montreal, then grand chief Joseph Tokwiro Norton helps establish the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. The commission eventually grows to license 450 online gambling sites operated by 60 permit holders.
1998
January: Planet Poker becomes the first true online poker room. The site attempts to replicate the land-based casino experience online.
1999
May: Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.) introduces the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act of 1999, HR 3125. It goes down to defeat in summer 2000 thanks to the lobbying efforts of Jack Abramoff.
2003
February: Under pressure from the Justice Department, a number of banks begin to block their customers from using bank-issued credit cards for Internet gambling.
May: Internet poker booms after Chris Moneymaker wins $2.5 million in the World Series of Poker, having practiced exclusively online.
June: Justice Department warns broadcasters they could be prosecuted for airing ads for gambling sites.
2005
June: PartyGaming, owner of the world's largest online poker site, PartyPoker, goes public on the London Stock Exchange with an initial public offering valued at more than $8 billion.
November: Rep. James Leach (R-Iowa) introduces the Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act, HR 4411, which would ban credit card and other payments for Internet gambling. It passes the House, but does not reach Senate floor.
2006
February: Goodlatte reintroduces legislation, HR 4777, to ban Internet gambling, but it dies in committee.
October: President Bush signs the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, a version of the Leach and Goodlatte legislation that was attached to the Safe Port Act of 2006, explicitly outlawing the transfer of money to online gambling sites.
July: Federal agents arrest BetOnSports chief executive David Carruthers and 10 others in an online gambling sting, charging them with conspiracy, racketeering and fraud under the U.S. Wire Act.
2007
January: U.S. authorities arrest the founders of British money transfer firm NETeller PLC; the company freezes customer accounts and pulls out of the U.S., losing two-thirds of its business in the process. » Justice Dept. Notice (PDF)
April: Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) introduces HR 2046 to repeal the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006.
May 3: Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) introduces the Internet Gambling Study Act, HR 2140, calling for a comprehensive report on Internet gambling. Meanwhile, federal prosecutors indict seven more people and four companies for processing illegal payments for online gambling transactions.
2008
Nov. 12: The Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Bank issue new regulations detailing how banks and other financial institutions must comply with the 2006 Internet gambling law.

Compiled by Chris Matthews and Amanda Zamora, washingtonpost.com, Sources: Washington Post archives, news reports, Poker Player's Alliance

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