The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act has not made poker playing illegal and gamers have not been categorized as criminals, (well, not yet anyway). So you need not worry if some one will arrest you if you play poker with a few buddies on a Saturday evening or if you play for fun on the internet. It is when you try real gaming in the hopes of making some money that you begin to see the UIGEA in action.
This is because according to the UIGEA, U.S banks and credit card companies are not allowed to transfer funds to Internet-based casinos located offshore. This puts a big limit on the online payment companies in transacting with American gamers. American players now find themselves banned from various online casinos beginning with the largest poker site in existence: Party Poker.
In addition to this there is also a 5 year imprisonment period or penalty fines for any "person engaged in the business of betting or wagering" who deliberately transacts financially in the purpose of "unlawful Internet gambling".
As a result of the UIGEA, the American gaming market saw the withdrawal of several important web casino industries. Party Poker which is the largest existing poker room on the internet, as well as one of the most popular sportsbooks, was the first to yield to pressure from congress and leave the market.
Soon after this many financial payment processing companies that served as an intermediary and transferred funds to these online companies withdrew their services to American gamers. Neteller, a company of the London AIM Exchange, which is one of the biggest online payment agencies having more than 2.3 million customers and about 1,700 online merchants, soon exited the American market when the US Department of Justice brought about criminal accusations against its founders.Also See: Unlawful Internet, Internet Gambling, Party Poker, Online Payment, Uigea, Poker, Online