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Is a Gambling Site?

When is a gambling website not really a gambling website? That’s what the owners of, a free-to-play poker site are trying to work out with the California State Attorney General’s Office.
The AG’s Office says that anytime someone plays poker for something of value, that it’s covered under statutes banning online poker. (Cafrino players can win prizes ranging from a single penny to thousands of dollars.)
In an interview with, owners, ean Stavropoulos and Jonathan Aiwazian said that their business model is perfectly legal:

The reason we are legal is we are not a gambling site.

They also added emphasized that players grouped by skill level, a key distinction when defining gambling, or games of chance:

Players are instantly separated by their abilities, with players who show better skill pooled to play against each other for much higher cash prizes, and the fish left to battle it out with each other for much smaller cash prizes.

Affiliate partners will want to keep an eye on this case because free-to-play sites are becoming very common in the United States.
Many of the big names in Nevada intrasate poker, like South Point Casino, are using these sites as a sort of online place holder until their legal, real-money sites are operational.
Do you think free-play sites should be legal? And will they hurt affiliate partners going forward? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.