This is a question that has been asked by hundreds, maybe thousands of aspiring new poker affiliates over the years. And even since the days of Planet Poker, and the explosion of the PartyPoker affiliate program in 2001, the answer still remains the same, “it depends”.
Whenever I publish anything regarding laws or the “legality” of being a poker affiliate, I always like to add a disclaimer. I am not a lawyer and have no legal background. I am just a poker affiliate who has been in the industry for several years. Anything I write about this subject is solely my opinion and nothing else.
To my knowledge however, there are absolutely no laws that specifically state being an affiliate, or marketing online poker sites is illegal. Don’t think however that you can host your own live poker games or accept sports wagers from buddies. There ARE laws in place that prohibit this. Being a poker affiliate simply means that you are driving internet traffic to poker sites, and being compensated a commission if and when any revenue is generated from this traffic.
Nonetheless, the issue of legality is still a gray area even amongst legal scholars. People in forums or other affiliates love to say “Speak with an attorney” when questioned about the legality of being a poker affiliate. But the reality is that almost every attorney will have a different interpretation, and at the end of the day, it still remains a gray area.
Although in my opinion, it’s really not. Looking at the UIGEA or the Federal Wire Act of 1961, there is nothing that directly implicates an individual affiliate marketer as a criminal. If an affiliate marketer in the U.S. is going to get in trouble with the government, it will probably be for other issues such as tax evasion or money laundering. But getting into legal trouble for the simple fact that you have FullTiltPoker.com banner on their site, or promote online poker sites is highly unlikely.
Another thing to keep in mind is that since the inception of poker affiliate programs, there has never been a case of an affiliate being arrested for promoting online poker through an affiliate program. In the unimaginable event that an affiliate ever got arrested in the U.S. for the sole reason of promoting online poker, there is one thing to keep in mind; You are entitled a trial by jury.
With the sketchy laws in the U.S regarding online gambling, I can’t imagine any jury would find “without a reasonable doubt” that an affiliate is breaking the law. Again to my knowledge, there is no law on the books anywhere that directly implicates internet marketers promoting via poker affiliate programs as federal criminals.
There are thousands of U.S. based poker affiliates. I can’t imagine the Department of Justice going after the college kid making a few hundred dollars a month through an affiliate program. Likewise it doesn’t even make sense to go after the full-time guys making six figures a year, paying their taxes, and operating above the board. Instead they would go after the offshore operators who rake millions of dollars a day and still accept U.S. wagers. THIS still has not happened.
Again, this is all just my opinion and has no legal bearing. Nor does it reflect the thoughts of anyone else or the owners of this website.