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Legalization of online poker in the United States came one step closer when the U.S. Department of Justice announced on Friday that “interstate transmissions of wire communications that do not relate to a sporting event or contest fall outside of the reach of the Wire Act.” The Wire Act, legislation enacted in 1961, barred wagering via telecommunications that cross state lines or international borders, a ruling that some claimed also related to online poker and gambling.

Advocates of legalized online poker see the new opinion from the Justice Department as a significant boost which will open the door for states to allow the game for their residents. The District of Columbia and Nevada have already moved to legalize intra-state poker and other states, including California, Iowa, and New Jersey, are expected to follow suit in 2012.

The Justice Department’s opinion would eliminate “almost every federal anti-gambling law that could apply to gaming that is legal under state laws,” wrote I. Nelson Rose, a gaming law expert at Whittier Law School as quoted in the Wall Street Journal. “There is simply no federal law that could apply” against state operators, he wrote on his blog.

Although individual states may legalize online poker for their residents, most of the big casinos are pushing for legalization of the game on a federal level. The Poker Players Alliance says the Justice Department ruling “makes it even more important that Congress act now to clarify federal law, and to create a licensing and regulation regime for Internet poker, coupled with clear laws and strong enforcement against other forms of gambling deemed to be illegal.”

On his blog, Rose is pessimistic for the chance of Congress acting to legalize online poker. “My bet is that … Congress will continue to do nothing, while Internet gambling explodes across the nation, made legal under state laws,” he wrote.

Russian Players Dominate $1,000 Facebook Freeroll

Russian online poker players dominated Titan Togel $1,000 Facebook Freeroll last night, taking five out of the top seven places. The tournament attracted 3,085 starters and the player finishing in first place was Russian “denvernio”, who captured the first prize of $240.

Titan Poker stages frequent freeroll tournaments exclusively for its community of nearly 20,000 Facebook followers. Recent events have awarded, in addition to cash prizes, tickets to the iPOPS Live Main Event tournaent that was staged in Prague.

The $1,000 Facebook Freeroll was a fast-paced tournament that lasted 3 ½ hours.

When final table action began, “denvernio” already had a commanding lead over his final seven opponents with a stack of 1,724,000 chips. Eliminations came quickly until only two Russians were left for eight hands of heads-up play. “denvernio” had a 3-1 advantage in chips over “Timarik1988”, and he was able to maintain his lead.

On the final hand, “denvernio” had K Q offsuit to the A 5 held by “Timarik1988”, who went all-in pre-flop. A queen on the river was enough to secure the tournament win for “denvernio”.