Alabama Legal Poker Sites

Alabama StateAlabama shares a lot of gambling history with its Southern Neighbors Mississippi and Louisiana. Unfortunately for poker fans, this State did not modernize their laws to allow gambling – and are rather conservative in terms of what is allowed. The religious nature of Alabama is highlighted by the fact that penalties for gambling are much harsher on Sundays!

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This article gives you an overview of playing poker games in the State of Alabama. First of all, you will find information on live poker card rooms – which are located across State borders here. Next home and social poker games are covered. After that you’ll find information on internet poker games in AL. Towards the end of this page there is information right from the Alabama law books, including an overview of what these laws mean for poker fans. Finally you’ll find a summary and speculation as to whether things are likely to progress in the near future.

Live Poker Games In Alabama

There is not a single casino which offers a live poker card room in Alabama, either State licensed or run by native tribes. The few casinos there are operate on tribal lands, these offer what is known as ‘class 2’ games – which encompass certain types of slots and bingo type games. There are no table games at all, and that includes poker.

Fortunately, Mississippi is only a short journey away and offers a great range of casinos, many of which have excellent poker card rooms. In other States this kind of cross-border revenue drain has kicked off discussions on legalizing casinos. Unfortunately this does not seem to have been the case for Alabama.

Are Home Games Legal In Alabama?

Home games, free to enter bar leagues and charity events are the only forms of poker which are legal under the Alabama Statutes.

If you want to run a home-game, then the usual stipulation – that nobody can profit from running the game – applies. This includes charging an entry fee to the premises as well as tournament entry fees or rake from the pots. There is a second stipulation in this State – the game must be between friends. The legal definition of friends is a tricky one, and down to the judges rather than explicitly defined under the gambling laws.

Bar poker leagues are popular, there are real prizes and the games have no entry fees. Certain bars like Oscars Bar and Grill in Enterprise, AL, are running bar tournaments 5 nights a week. Many other bars have weekly events or more occasional games. There are also charity poker tournaments running in Alabama – these need to be individually licensed by the State before they can take place.

Online Poker Games In Alabama

There is nothing on the Alabama Statutes which directly mentions internet gambling. Like in most States the assumption of the enforcement agencies and government here is that the current Statutes already cover this area.

Many Alabamans enjoy the offshore online poker sites who continue to welcome US players. These sites are operated from countries where online poker is legal, mostly Caribbean islands.

Unsurprisingly, there is no movement towards regulated online poker games in this State. I can’t see any future scenario where this would happen given the complete lack of casino table games and other gambling options here.

What Do The Alabama Statutes Say About Gambling?

The current definition of gambling from the AL Statutes comes from 1901, during a period where religious elements were in the process of banning just about everything – including alcohol a few years later. Not much has really changed since then, with some small carve-outs for pari-mutuel horse racing, charity and social games the only allowed format. Alabama is one of the few States with no lottery.

While the laws seem to suggest you could argue the ‘Skill Game’ line for poker, this has already been tested in court. The answer is very clear, poker is considered gambling under Alabaman law. Here is the key passage from the AL Statutes, this is the definition of gambling from Chapter 13A, Section 12-20:

…risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under his control or influence…

Alabama Poker – Summing It Up

While there is not complete prohibition here, Alabama ranks very close to Utah when it comes to the minimal options for gambling available. Only the limited slots games at tribal casino save it from complete ‘dry State’ status.

Fortunately, there are some great options for poker just over the border in Mississippi, and bar leagues to keep your skills up to date between trips to those venues. While the lure of extra revenues for State coffers might trigger other States to eventually regulate online poker games – this seems unlikely in Alabama. In the meantime, there is always the option of offshore poker sites. While these are considered covered by the existing Statutes, there is little enforcement for individuals enjoying a game of poker online.