Reisdents of Louisiana may soon have a place to play poker online. The Louisiana Food Company recently launched a brand new online poker site. TouchPoker.com is currently hosting free Texas Hold ‘em tables, meaning it is an entertainment only site for now. Because there is no wagering on the site, it is currently legal for people all over the world. What’s surprising about this announcement, made just 20 days after the US Department of Justice declared the Wire Act only makes sports betting illegal, is that it comes from Louisiana. That state has some of the harshest anti-gambling laws in the country, including provisions against “computer gambling.”
Baton Rouge-based Louisiana Food Company is exactly what it sounds like: a company selling authentic Louisiana food items online, through the mail, and in some grocery locations. Why the interest in online poker? One of the founders of the company is a man named David Loflin. Mr. Loflin has long shown an interest in online gambling. Loflin says that his company has “every intention of becoming a serious participant in the $115 billion U.S. gambling industry,” and that TouchPoker.com will be seeking a state license to operate a legal online poker site.
Loflin’s got a lot of guts. Louisiana is one of the few states in the country with laws specifically outlawing gambling using a computer, the state’s way of outlawing online poker and other online gaming sites. Just because the federal government appears less interested in outlawing online poker doesn’t mean the state government of Louisiana will play along. Yes, online poker could present the state of Louisiana with a new revenue source, but that may not be enough for Louisiana to overcome a decades-long prohibition on gambling outside of state-licensed casinos.
What led to a specialty food company investing in an online poker room? December 23, 2011, the day online poker players got an early Christmas present. That day, the U.S. Department of Justice clarified the decades-old Wire Act, leading the state of Nevada to immediately pass a bill that allows for companies to offer online poker. The assumption is that Nevada, New Jersey, and other states interested in licensing online poker sites may team up with other states to share revenue. Many online poker enthusiasts have been holding off plans to start their own poker networks until the DoJ made their position known. Now that the Wire Act has been refocused on sports wagers only, men like David Loflin are trying to get in on the ground floor.
For now, TouchPoker.com is pretty boring. The site itself is on the ugly side, the poker games are slow to load and look like online poker sites ten years ago, and since there are no real cash games, the action’s boring. Should Loflin get his wish, and TouchPoker.com earns a license to operate as a legal casino site, expect the next version of TouchPoker.com to look nothing like today’s tease. Loflin sounds like a man on a mission, hoping to bring online poker into the Deep South, right in the heart of anti-online gaming country.
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