Each state has their own stance on poker. In one state it might be OK to play poker in a casino, but not online. In another it might be OK to play poker in a casino, but not at home or online. And in other states it’s OK to play poker whenever you want, however you want.
The lack of consistency from one state to the next makes it confusing to know what’s OK and what’s not. That forces you to find and read your state laws, which are full of jargon and lawyer speak. This only makes understanding the laws in your state more confusing.
So what we’ve done to help is create individual state guides. We researched each state’s laws and wrote them up in an easy to read and understand format. Our main focus in each guide was the legality of poker in the state, what forms of poker are allowed (live, home, online, etc) and the consequence of being caught if one form was illegal. Take a look through each guide to find out the details about your particulate state.
Note: We’re not lawyers and laws change all the time. Use our guides for informational purposes only. Always consult with your local law enforcement, lawyers, law makers, etc before participating in any poker games.
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State Poker Guides
Miscellaneous Articles Related To US Poker Legality
US Poker Legalities
Movies like Rounders opened the country’s eyes to the fascinating game of No Limit Texas Hold’em and many players in the US ventured to play poker online for real money. After Chris Moneymaker’s dramatic win in the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event, online poker exploded in popularity and it was like there was never going to be any kind of letup.
But then two incidents occurred in the United States which shook up the online poker industry and caused many US-facing sites to exit the market. Let’s take a look at the biggest issues facing the industry.
The UIGEA and Black Friday incidents that both occurred in the last decade are without a doubt the biggest problems with the current American online poker landscape, and the reason why it can be so difficult to deposit on online poker sites if you reside in the US.
Both events had a huge impact on the American online poker market and made many avid poker players question the legality of online poker. As a result, many players decided to move abroad to countries like Canada in order to keep playing on the top poker sites.
The premise of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) act that was passed back in 2006 was to prohibit banks and other financial institutions from allowing Americans to transfer funds to and from unlawful gambling websites. That’s all there was to the bill, there was nothing in the bill that stopped people from playing online poker games for real money.
Then just a few years ago, the Black Friday online poker fiasco took place, when three of the biggest online poker sites accepting players in the US at the time, PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker, were shut down and closed their doors to American players overnight.
The founders of these companies were indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice on charges of bank fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling relating to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 and the Illegal Gambling Business Act of 1955. What they had done was create fake businesses so that banks and other financial institutions would process their transactions. So, the DOJ stepped in to enforce the UIGEA rules and regulations.
As you can see, this is all about the government trying to stop the flow of money to and from gambling websites, and from a player’s perspective, actually has nothing to do with the legality of playing online poker. The government doesn’t care that people play poker online, evidenced by the fact that US online poker players that were affected by Black Friday got access back to their funds.
It is likely the powers that be wanted to pave the way for regulation of internet gambling, which is still very much in its infancy. Following the Black Friday fiasco in 2011, online poker had been regulated in several US states, including Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware, and it’s likely that more and more states will follow likely through interstate agreements that will allow different states to share player pools.
It is still some time away before every state in the United States offers legal and regulated online poker, so as it stands right now, players that decided to stay in the country to get their online poker fix have a choice between both regulated and non-regulated sites, depending on where they live.
Since the UIGEA and Black Friday, the online poker sites that decided to continue to operate in the United States have struggled to regain the kind of momentum gained prior to both events taking place, but there are still some decent options out there that have good traffic and are worth playing on (albeit a fairly limited number of options), but compared to sites pre-Black Friday they have much smaller player pools.
Some players have moved on to fantasy sports or live poker to still their poker fix, but there will always be some players who prefer playing poker online due to its obvious advantages. So why hasn’t more online poker sites like PartyPoker and 888Poker made the decision to stay in the US?
Well, they gambled on the fact that online poker would become regulated in the US again (which it turns out was the case), and didn’t want to risk hurting their chances of being allowed to continue to operate in a regulated market. Furthermore, they were publicly traded companies and wanted to do the right thing by their shareholders. Also some states prohibit online poker, so it’s necessary for operators to geo-target and exclude certain players from playing on their site, adding weight to the decision.