New rulings mean big changes in the online poker world.

Two weeks ago, online poker site  reached a settlement agreement with the United States Department of Justice in the amount of $731 Million dollars in relations to charges brought against them in April of 2011. In addition, the settlement included terms that saw PokerStars purchase rival online poker site Full Tilt Poker.

For those unfamiliar with the story, the US Department of Justice unsealed an indictment on April 15th, 2011 against PokerStars, Full Tilt, and Absolute Poker that charged them with numerous crimes that included money laundering, bank fraud, and violations of the UIGEA. In addition, their .com domains were seized by the US Government.Since that time, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker have both been forced out of business and PokerStars pulled out of the United States…

The recent settlement brought an end to charges against PokerStars and also guaranteed that former Full Tilt players would be refunded. In addition, Full Tilt Poker will be relaunched by the end of year and will be operated by PokerStars. Finally, the deal also will help to shape the future of online poker globally for years to come.

As part of the terms of this deal, PokerStars and Full Tilt will legally be able to come back into the United States when and if the game of online poker becomes legal. Two states have already legalized online poker and other states are expected to do so in the near future provided a federal solution does not become available.

Before this agreement with the DOJ, the future of PokerStars in America seemed “drawing dead” to use a poker term as many states were considering language to ban sites like PokerStars who blatantly violated US law. With the new agreement, the DOJ will not have any objections to PokerStars operating legally and as such many states will likely side with this agreement.

Outside of the United States, PokerStars will now become the first virtual monopoly in online poker history. Prior to last year, PokerStars and Full Tilt were the two largest sites, but they were still competitors. Now that PokerStars owns Full Tilt, they will have the majority of the online poker market cornered and with the resources at the companies disposal, it is difficult to envision any other site providing a legitimate challenge to the site.

Simply stated, the future of online poker will be PokerStars and “the other sites.” While others sites will still be profitable and have solid player pools, most innovations and trends in the online poker world will come from PokerStars. The largest online poker site has instantly become monolithic, and now the question is will anyone ever be able to step up and compete with the site in the future.