Louisiana Legal Poker Sites

Louisiana StateLouisiana has a long history of gambling going back to the earliest Spanish and then French Settlers. Poker first became popular in this State on the infamous Mississippi riverboat casinos. Card-sharps and other shady characters were once a fixture on these steamboats, which were the forerunners of todays docked riverboat casinos. This State gives residents a lot of options when it comes to poker. One which is legally out of bounds is online poker, which is explicitly criminalized here.

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You’ll find information on playing poker in Louisiana divided into the different formats below. First of all live poker games at casinos and card rooms are covered, including both State and Tribal casinos. After that you will find information on poker home games – including the rules by which these can be legally run. After that some words on online poker, before I finish up with an overview of the specific wording in the Statute books which applies to poker players.

Live Poker Games In Louisiana

This State has more casinos than just about anywhere outside of Nevada – and has often been called ‘Little Vegas South’. You’ll find more than live poker rooms in 10 of the major venues, hosting a wide range of cash games and tournaments. The live games in Louisiana are popular enough to attract big tournament events – including the WSOP circuit tournaments.

Big names include Harrah’s have LA venues with large and popular poker rooms. Many local names are also popular among live game fans – including the Coushatta casino based in Kinder and the El Dorado casino at Shreveport.

Many of these poker rooms are also popular with players coming over from Texas – where there are far fewer opportunities. As an interesting aside, being a professional gambler (‘maintaining yourself though gambling’) is considered to be a misdemeanor in this State.

Are Home Games Legal In Louisiana?

Home games are an interesting case under LA law. While some states have a specific exemption on their books for social poker games – Louisiana does not. This would make a home-game a criminal act in theory. In practice social games are widely tolerated and are not busted due to the ‘poker as a business’ line in the Statutes.

This means that as long as there is no individual profiting via raking pots or charging an entry fee, that the game is not being run as a business and so is not specifically illegal. Games like this need to be behind closed doors and not advertised, any form of gambling in public is not legal in this State. This effectively counts out ‘bar leagues’. In these games entry can be free, though the bars make extra money serving drinks and refreshments.

To summarize, if your home game is private, low stakes and nobody is taking a profit in any way – then you are ok to go ahead in Louisiana. Otherwise, you’ll need to be cautious.

Online Poker Games In Louisiana

Louisiana is one of a handful of States (along with Utah, Washington and Florida that have explicitly outlawed gambling over the internet. The law actually specifies gambling on a computer, and includes strict penalties including a $500 fine and up to a year in jail. Some people have questioned this law, since the wording is ambiguous. In some people’s mind, this only applies if you are gambling as a business. The law about maintaining yourself through gambling could also apply to online poker pros from Louisiana.

While operators of illegal gambling sites have been in the sights of the State prosecutor here, there have not been any arrests or convictions just for playing online poker at the time of writing.

Even with the explicit ban on internet gambling, Louisiana has set up a commission with the task of looking into State regulated poker – this is due to be completed sometime later in 2014.

What Do The Louisiana Gambling Statutes Say?

Each State has a different definition of gambling, some specifically including poker – and others including this under broad definitions of ‘skill and chance’. The Louisiana wording focuses on the ‘risk’ element, which really makes the skill game argument difficult. Here is the passage, from Chapter 14 of the State Code part 90.1.

Gambling is the intentional conducting, or directly assisting in the conducting, as a business, of any game, contest, lottery, or contrivance whereby a person risks the loss of anything of value in order to realize a profit

There is a second part which mimics this ‘risking something to win something’ wording and then adds ‘when accessing the internet’ to the end of it.

Louisiana Poker – Summing It Up

This gambling-friendly State gives residents a lot of opportunities to enjoy live poker games in their many casino poker rooms – which are also popular with Texans. You can also enjoy a home-game here, though it must be strictly private and nobody can profit from the game in any way. Online poker fans are not so lucky – with explicit wording in the law books banning online gambling completely.

This does not stop many residents enjoying the offshore poker sites who still welcome players from this State. If you do choose to enjoy these games, just make sure you are aware of the laws and any personal risks you are taking on.