North Dakota Legal Poker Sites

North Dakota StateNorth Dakota has a lot of tribal casinos spread around the territory, many of these include small to mid-sized live poker rooms too. The smallest population of any State is well served by social poker options, with popular bar leagues, charity games and home poker all legal under the State laws. Online poker is not regulated here, though an attempt was made (and defeated) in 2005. North Dakota residents continue to be welcomed by offshore poker sites.

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This page gives you a run-through of all you need to know about poker gaming in the State of North Dakota. I have started with the live poker rooms, giving you info on the tribal casinos that spread poker and options over State borders. Next social games are covered, including the specifics of when you home-game is legal and when it is not.

Live Poker Games In North Dakota

Per head of population, there are a lot of casinos in this State. At the moment 5 of them also include poker rooms, with most having 5 to 8 tables. There is plenty of lower stakes cash game action and daily tournaments – however the venues are too small to attract the big regional tours like the WSOP Circuit or World Poker Tour.

Options across State borders are fairly limited here. Minnesota have their own tribal casinos and Montana have only small poker rooms. Travelling to south Dakota would seem a possible option, though many of their rooms are tucked away in Deadwood, which is way down in the south-east of this State.

Are Home Games Legal In North Dakota?

You can legally enjoy a home game in North Dakota, as this area is given a specific exemption under the law. There is a maximum bet level of $25 per hand set in the social poker laws here, this seems like it could do with updating for inflation a little. There is no major news of busts for smaller stakes home games here – so you should be safe enough if you want to go ‘all-in’ for $26!

Bar Poker leagues with no entry fees operate in this State, these are popular games and often have prizes of vouchers provided by the hosting bars. Charity poker games also take place, you’ll need to get approval for the game upfront though.

North Dakota Online Poker Games

North Dakota does not naturally spring to mind as a pioneering State for online gambling technology, however had a 2005 bill not been voted out in the ND Senate then they could have been ahead of the crowd. There is no news of recent discussions in the government here concerning regulating online poker. This is assumed to be illegal under the current State laws (though there has never been a test case, let alone a legal precedent).

One issue here is that the smaller population size is not big enough to form a healthy online poker economy on its own. This means that ND would need to join with one or more other States in a liquidity sharing deal in order to make regulated internet poker games work. There is no reason why North Dakota should not join the regulated States once online poker becomes established elsewhere.

As things stand, the poker sites operating from offshore havens in the Caribbean welcome North Dakota players into their games.

What Do The North Dakota Gambling Statutes Say?

Even though there are a lot of casinos in North Dakota, the Statutes here are rather restrictive. If it were not for these tribally owned venues, it would be hard to get any poker action at all under ND law outside of the social games sphere at least.

This State uses the common ‘Game Of Chance’ definition of illegal gambling to create a blanket ban on this activity. Home games and charity games are then separately carved out in later amendments. It only takes a small amount of chance for a game to be considered illegal here, which spoils the party when it comes to the poker skill-game argument.

Here is the key definition from the North Dakota statutes, this concerns the definition of gambling and comes from chapter 12.1, 28-01:

…“Gambling” means risking any money, credit, deposit, or other thing of value for gain, contingent, wholly or partially, upon lot, chance, the operation of gambling apparatus, or the happening or outcome of an event, including an election or sporting event, over which the person taking the risk has no control…

North Dakota Poker – Summing It Up

The many tribal casinos with poker rooms disguise the fact that there are very few State licensed or commercial gambling opportunities in North Dakota. Small stakes home games are legal here, though only if you are betting less than $25 per hand.

There is no reason why ND should not join a future round of regulation for internet poker sites. With a small population, there are not enough potential players to go it alone. This means that North Dakota may be more likely to join an established group of States pooling their players once such a group becomes established.