Maryland Legal poker Sites

Maryland StateMaryland has a varied history when it comes to gambling, going back 100’s of years. From the lottery boom of the 1700s to the slot machine fever of the 1940’s – this State have been at the center of it all. After many years when almost all forms of gambling were banned, casinos were approved in a 2010 referendum, with the first ones opening in 2012. The first poker rooms were live in 2013, and are already doing great business.

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This page gives you detailed information on the forms of poker you can play in the State of Maryland. First up, I have outlined the opportunities to play live poker games and casino card rooms. After that you will find information on how you can legally run a home-game in this State. Next you will find information on online poker games, which are currently considered illegal. After that a look at the Statute books can be found – before I summarize and look at the possible next steps for Maryland.

Live Poker Games In Maryland

It took a long time for Maryland to get their first casino poker room. A State-wide referendum approved licensed State casinos in 2010, with the huge ‘Maryland Live’ opening its doors 2 years later. This was partly in response to the large amount of gambling revenues crossing State borders to casino-friendly neighbors including Delaware and New Jersey.

The poker room at Maryland Live has been a huge hit, offering a wide range of cash games and tournaments – recently crowned with a $1 million tournament series in the Spring of 2014. This casino is also proving attractive to residents of the District Of Columbia (Washington DC). The amount of people visiting from Washington DC has initiated discussions on whether licensed casinos should be introduced into the Capitol.

There are several more casinos in various stages of development in Maryland. If the experience of Maryland Live is anything to go by, there are more poker rooms sure to be opened soon.

Are Home Games Legal In Maryland?

Strictly speaking, you are breaking the law by hosting a home game in Maryland. In practical terms the law enforcement community tolerates purely social games where nobody is profiting via raking the games or charging entry fees. This enables small stakes home games to take place without worries of busts – and also allows bar league events where there are no buy-ins.

In the Spring of 2014, the subject of Home Poker games was discussed in 2 hearings in the MD Senate. The idea is to create a carve-out under the law for social games to decriminalize them. No action was taken following these hearings. Hopefully the next time gambling laws are amended in this State, a clause legalizing home-games will be included.

Online Poker Games In Maryland

Like most States there are no specific mentions of online poker games in the Maryland Statute books. Enforcement agencies consider the wide definition of ‘wagering’ (see below) to be adequate coverage for internet gambling of all types. Maryland residents do play poker at the offshore sites who still welcome US players. At the time of writing no individual has ever been prosecuted for doing this or even arrested.

While there is no bill or discussion in the MD government concerning regulation of online poker games, you can be sure that neighboring States of NJ and DW are being watched closely. If their regulation efforts prove to be a success then there is no reason for Maryland not to follow – and even join a future liquidity sharing deal with them.

What Do The Maryland Gambling Statutes Say?

Penalties for gambling illegally in Maryland are harsh, especially when you consider the liberal attitude towards regulated gambling. There are two key parts of the gambling laws which cover poker games. These are a very general definition stating that an individual may not ‘bet, wager or gamble’, and then a more detailed section on using buildings for the purposes of gambling activity.

Here is an excerpt from section 12-201 of the Maryland code:

… establish, keep, rent, use, or occupy, or knowingly allow to be established, kept, rented, used, or occupied, all or a part of a building, vessel, or place, on land or water, within the State, for the purpose of: (i) betting, wagering, or gambling; or (ii) making, selling, or buying books or pools on the result of a race, contest, or contingency…

That’s already a very broad definition, and the assumption in MD is that poker is very much included in this. In case that were not enough to capture all types of gambling, you can’t legally receive or hold money involved in wagering either – including contests of skill.

Maryland Poker – Summing It Up

After years when you could only visit racetracks, play lottery games or attend charity bingo nights – Maryland has really come alive when it comes to poker games. The best thing about the new Maryland Live Casino (other than their inaugural $1 million tournament!) is that this is just the first of several more casinos due to open poker rooms in the near future.

I would consider MD one of the stronger candidates for regulating online poker – though with the pre-requisite that Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware demonstrate that this is a success first.