Legal Online Poker In San Francisco Through Controversial Subscription Site
Online poker in the United States has had an incredibly volatile existence the past couple of years alone. In 2011 the three largest poker rooms in the world were shut down by US authorities in what has become known as Black Friday in the online gambling community. Just eight months later, the Department of Justice in the United States flip-flopped their attitude concerning online gambling, delivering poker players an early Christmas gift in December of that year by deciding that poker was a game of skill and not of chance, and therefore not covered by the 1961 Wire Act. That legislation outlawed using a phone or computer to transfer money to make wagers, but due to consistent statewide pressure, the DOJ wisely decided to let each individual state in the US deliver its own message regarding online poker.
In 2012, New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada all decided to legalize some form of online gambling, all of those states agreeing to offer online poker to their residents and travelers when located inside state boundaries. And with the largest population by far in the United States, California appears on the verge of cashing the largest virtual check with what is widely regarded as almost guaranteed upcoming passage of online poker legislation in early 2014. And while online poker in the United States has been heavily reported the last few years whether concerning legal or illegal activity, online poker is quietly alive and well, slipping under the radar in a major California city thanks to what the owner delivering the service is calling a legal subscription service.
San Francisco, California is home to Pure Play, a company which offers a subscription-based online poker experience. Jason B. Kellerman, owner and CEO of Pure Play, one of the largest online poker rooms in the world that you have never heard about, says that because his subscription-based poker service lets players enjoy poker tournaments and cash games for free once they pay their monthly subscription fee, the business model is absolutely legal. He stated that he is not concerned at all that over the past five years alone the US Justice Department has shut down more than a dozen online poker sites catering to Americans. The operation running out of downtown Frisco is "not a gambling site" according to its owner, and for the time being, state and federal authorities agree.
Kellerman equated the experience to playing the McDonald's Monopoly contest when you make a purchase from that fast food franchise. In case you're not familiar with the game, during a certain time every year McDonald's gives away free Monopoly property pieces each time you make a specific purchase. Collecting certain groups of those Monopoly properties can win cash money and free food. The reason this lottery-like experience is legal for McDonald's is you can request a free game piece from that company's website. Since a purchase is not required, this makes the McDonald's Monopoly contest absolutely legal in the United States. Kellerman pointed out that his company operates the same way, allowing a free monthly subscription to the Pure Play poker site for anyone who sends a request via snail mail.
Why then do customers pay a $25 monthly fee instead of sending in a mailed request each month that provides the same experience for free? Kellerman said that because of the convenience of registering a payment method one time and having auto-debit withdrawals each and every month, most poker players prefer that choice over the free play option. Whether you sign up for free or choose the $25 a month fee, you can then play in all the online poker tournaments offered by the site and win cash prizes. Also, members who sign up for free have to put up with advertising when they play at Pure Play, while paying members do not. Is the subscription method the answer to delivering legal online poker rooms in the United States? That remains to be seen at the federal level, but currently, the City by the Bay in California is home to a controversial company which has yet to run afoul of state or US authorities.