US Poker Legislation- Where can you play poker and which states is poker legal in?
Do you want to play poker in the US? PokerNews’ interactive map not only shows you where you can play legal poker in the US but also poker legislation for various states.
In addition, we offer a brief look at the history of online poker legality in the United States, from the early days, during the poker boom, and through Black Friday and beyond.
The online poker landscape in the US is constantly changing, but here at PokerNews we aim to keep you atop all the latest developments so you can have a great experience at the best online poker sites in the US.
Is online poker legal in the US in 2023?
Yes, online poker is legal in the United States, albeit only in certain states. As of early 2023, only six states have legalized online poker – Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Michigan.
The state of online poker varies from state to state due to a number of factors including state laws, gaming interests, and of course, politics. Below you will get a better understanding of online poker in the United States and garner a better understanding of each state’s current stance on the issue, and in some cases, their chances of offering online poker.
Is live poker legal in the US in 2023?
Yes, live poker is legal in the United States in 2023, though it does vary from state to state. Some states – such as Hawaii, Utah, and Wyoming – have long resisted both poker and other forms of gaming due to factors such as religion and politics, which have influenced their state laws.
Other states like Wisconsin, California, and Florida, just to name a few, are allowed to offer poker via compacts between state and tribal gaming interests. Meanwhile, some states have long embraced poker such as Nevada, New Jersey, and Louisiana.
Most of the time, poker goes hand-in-hand with other gaming interests. For example, most states will grant a gaming license, which in turn will dictate what games can be offered. If a venue is able to offer table games, chances are they’re able to offer live poker if they so choose.
Upcoming and future poker legislation in the US
Poker legislation in the United States is always a hot topic, and that’s because the political winds often shift. For example, sports betting was banned by law in most states for decades, but a change in the interpretation of the Wire Act ultimately changed the landscape. Before long, states all across the country were offering both live and online sports-betting options.
When it comes to online poker, a lot of legislative efforts have piggybacked off sports betting, meaning when a state is considering online sports betting gaming operators push to tack on other games, including poker.
Live poker is a little trickier, but that’s not to say legislative attempts don’t happen. On the contrary, politicians often introduce bills supporting live poker efforts. Most recently, Texas lawmaker Gene Wu introduced a bill seeking to clarify a legal loophole in the Lone Star state.
What was Black Friday in poker?
If you’ve been around poker, you’ve probably heard of Black Friday. What was Black Friday? No, it wasn’t a business-driving sale the day after Thanksgiving. For poker players, Black Friday was the day the US government forever altered the course of online poker.
So, when was Black Friday? The infamous day was April 15, 2011.
When was Black Friday?
On Friday, April 15, 2011, poker players woke up, logged onto either PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and the Cereus Network (UltimateBet & Absolute Poker) only to discover an unexpected message from the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York locking down the sites.
Without warning, the government had come for online poker on a day that would henceforth be known as Black Friday.
What was Black Friday?
Black Friday was the day the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) shut down the three major online poker operators by not only shutting down access to the sites but also charging various individuals with crimes, such as bank fraud, stemming from the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).
Why did Black Friday happen?
Without proper legalization and regulation, online poker sites operate without much oversight. As a result, there was no one to hold them accountable when misconduct, such as the infamous cheating scandal at UB, victimized players. Plus, there was still a lot of money being processed despite the UIGEA, which focused on financial transactions when it came to illegal gambling transactions.
Black Friday aftermath - What were the implications of Black Friday?
Black Friday forever changed the poker landscape. At the time, players didn’t know what would happen, and their funds, which ranged from a couple of bucks to millions of dollars, were locked in limbo. Here’s a look at the various ways Black Friday impacted the poker industry as a whole.
- Full Tilt Poker and the Cereus Network (UltimateBet & Absolute Poker) both went under after it was revealed that they failed to segregate player funds. In other words, they didn’t have money to payout players once the US government allowed them to do so.
- On the other hand, PokerStars did segregate funds and promptly paid out players. Not only that, they would become heroes of the poker industry when they eventually acquired Full Tilt Poker and also made those players whole.
- As a result of Black Friday, the once-booming online poker market in the US disappeared overnight. It still hasn’t recovered more than a decade later. Given online poker companies were big sponsors of live poker events, poker on TV, etc., the entire industry suffered a massive blow. The years of the “Poker Boom” were officially over.
- Black Friday shut down the unregulated online poker market, but it did open the door for legal and regulated options. However, it was clear there would be no nationwide online poker network. Instead, each state would be responsible for offering its own legislation.
- Prior to Black Friday, tens of millions of Americans played online poker on PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. Now, only a fraction of those is able to play online in limited regulated markets.
- Black Friday gave poker a black eye when it became known Full Tilt Poker and the Cereus Network (UltimateBet & Absolute Poker) couldn’t pay out players. This led to prosecutors likening them to a “Ponzi Scheme,” which reflected negatively on poker to the masses.
The complete history of poker legality and legislation in the US (Timeline)
The history of online poker in the United States goes back decades. Here’s a look at some of the most significant points in the history of the legality of poker in the US.
The First Online Poker Site
The first online poker site to offer real money games was Planet Poker in 1998; in fact, the very first hand was dealt on January 1! In October 1999, Mike Caro became the first “online poker ambassador” by becoming the face of Planet Poker. Not long after, Paradise Poker debuted and for a time those two online operators were the only games on the internet.
PartyPoker Takes the Lead
With the help of Poker Hall of Famer Mike Sexton, PartyPoker launched in 2001 and quickly rose to be the premier online poker site in the business thanks to state-of-the-art software and attention to detail. They would remain the leader in the online poker industry until 2006 when the UIGEA inspired them to voluntarily exit the US market.
In December 2001, PokerStars began offering real money gaming. The software and tournament options were well-received by the poker community, and the site got a big boost in 2003 when a then-unknown Tennessee accountant named Chris Moneymaker won a PokerStars satellite into the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event. He went on to win that tournament for $2.5 million and helped spark the “Poker Boom.”
888poker and Full Tilt Poker
888poker was founded in 2002, and two years later Full Tilt Poker (FTP) entered the market. Along with PokerStars and PartyPoker, the four sites were generally accepted as the biggest and best places to play online poker.
Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006
On the last day before Congress adjourned for the 2006 session, the SAFE Port Act was passed in the early morning hours without much fanfare. In fact, no one on the Senate–House Conference Committee had seen the final language of the bill before it was passed. As such, it was used to tack on legislation unrelated to “port security” in a last-ditch effort to pass various agendas.
Title VIII was one such effort in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). The law prohibited online gaming operators from “knowingly accepting payments in connection with the participation of another person in a bet or wager that involves the use of the Internet and that is unlawful under any federal or state law."
Simply put, it didn’t outlaw online poker, but it took away the ability to get the money required to play online poker on and off the sites.
Five Years of Skirting the Law
While PartyPoker and 888poker respected the UIGEA by no longer offering their services to US players, PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and the Cereus Network (UltimateBet & Absolute Poker) continued on. They skirted the law by disguising player financial transactions as something non-poker related (i.e. showing up as “flowers” on a credit card transaction).
Black Friday Comeuppance
On Friday, April 15, 2011, the US government shut down PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and the Cereus Network (UltimateBet & Absolute Poker). A 52-page indictment against top executives was unsealed, and $3 billion in assets were sought. The 11 defendants named were John Campos (part-owner of an involved bank), Chad Elie (payment processor), Bradley Franzen (payment processor), Isai Scheinberg (PokerStars founder), Ray Bitar (CEO of Tiltware), Scott Tom (part-owner of Absolute Poker), Brent Beckley (payments director at AP), Nelson Burtnick (payments director at Tiltware), Paul Tate (payments director at PokerStars), Ryan Lang (payment processor), and Ira Rubin (payment processor).
Rise of Regulated Online Poker
Rising out of the ashes of poker’s Black Friday was the opportunity for state-regulated online poker sites. In 2013, Nevada and Delaware became the first two states to offer online poker, while New Jersey would join later that year. Four years later in 2017, Pennsylvania joined the fray, while both West Virginia and Michigan followed suit in 2019, though the former has yet to actually offer online poker while the latter didn’t launch until January 2021.
Which US states can I play poker in 2023?
Where is poker legal in 2023? What states have legal online poker? As of 2023, only six states have legalized and regulated online poker in Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Michigan.
That leaves the state of online poker in the other 44 states up in the air. Some will likely never offer online poker, while others may very well may launch operations in the years to come. Here’s a state-by-state look at the current state of online poker across the United States.
Is Poker Legal in Alabama?
|Online Poker Status: Not Legal|
|Free to Play Alternatives: Global Poker & PokerStars Play|
No. Poker is not legal in Alabama and there are no licensed and regulated poker sites or live poker rooms available in the state. At this time, as of 2023, there are no pieces of legislation up for a vote on bringing legal internet poker to the Cotton State.
Major poker sites such as PokerStars haven’t been accessible from Alabama since Black Friday on April 15, 2011, when the US Department of Justice (DOJ) forced the top sites to cease operations in the United States. In more than a decade since there hasn’t been any serious movement toward bringing legal online poker to the state.
Therefore, players in Alabama should check out free-to-play Poker sites such as Global Poker and PokerStars Play.
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Is Poker Legal in Alaska?
The answer to this question is no, at least not at this time. Unfortunately, for those who live outside the continental United States, there isn’t much optimism that online poker or live poker will become legal in the near future. But that doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen.
Alaska hasn’t passed any sort of legislation that is pro-poker, and there’s no reason to expect a bill to be brought forth in 2023, although stranger things have happened. For now, the only options for those who reside in this beautiful state is to play on unlicensed and unregulated poker sites, although we don’t recommend doing so.
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Is Poker Legal in Arkansas?
Live poker is only permitted at the state's two racinos in table-game form, not as traditional live poker cash games or tournaments. Home poker games are also illegal. As for online poker, it’s even worse for poker players as internet gambling is illegal in any form.
Arkansas has never been a state with politicians who will push forward much in the way of pro-gambling legislation, especially when it comes to poker. And the likelihood of that changing within the near future seems to be slim to none.
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Is Poker Legal in California?
Yes, poker is legal in California, in some ways. In others, as we are about to explain, it isn’t. When it comes to online poker, there is nowhere within the Golden State in which you can legally play poker online, and there aren’t any licensed or regulated poker sites in operation, nor are there likely to be any time soon (if ever).
But there are many land-based poker rooms in California, including some of the biggest and most popular card rooms in the world such as Parkwest Bicycle Casino (aka “The Bike”) and Commerce Casino in the Los Angeles area. These rooms are all located on within jurisdictions that are approved by the California Gambling Control Commission.
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Is Poker Legal in Colorado?
Poker is legal in Colorado in certain areas, and the state has played host to a number of major events such as the World Series of Poker Circuit tour, but there are no legal poker sites in operation because there’s never been a pro-online poker bill passed.
Live poker rooms are limited to Indian reservations in a few areas, with Black Hawk being the most notable and top place to play in Colorado. Since 2012, lawmakers have at least considered a pro-online poker bill but one has never seriously advanced or come close to passing. Sadly, there are no nearby states for Coloradans to travel to for legal online poker. The closest state is Nevada, which is a 10-hour drive from Denver, and a six-hour drive from the western part of the state.
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Is Poker Legal in Connecticut?
Online poker and live poker are both legal in Connecticut, but there are some issues with it so don’t get ahead of yourself just yet.
Let’s start with online where, yes, it technically is legal. A bill passed through in May 2021 and that was a positive step in the right direction. The only problem is the bill only permits the state’s two tribes – Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot, but neither has yet found a partner to launch a poker site and it’s unclear when that will happen.
As for live poker, there are two major card rooms in the state, both of which you’ve probably heard about – Mohegan Sun and the legendary Foxwoods Casino, which has long been home to some of the biggest games in the northeast.
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Is Poker Legal in Delaware?
Poker is legal in Delaware and it’s one of the most lenient states when it comes to online poker. Not only that but even though the state is small, there are plenty of nearby card rooms in neighboring states, which makes Delaware a great place to live for poker players.
Delaware was the first state ever to pass legislation permitting poker sites to operate legally. There are three land-based casinos in Delaware, all of which operate a poker site. There’s a decent chance there will be more poker sites running in the future.
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Is Poker Legal in Florida?
Poker is legal in Florida when it comes to land-based casinos, but it isn’t legal online and you shouldn’t expect that to change any time soon. That said, the Sunshine State has become a hotbed for tournament poker, with some of the biggest events ever taking place in this southern state.
There are some major poker rooms in Tampa and Miami, the state’s two largest cities and two of the top tourist destinations in the US. We mention the tourism part because that is a big part of why tournaments at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel’s in Tampa and Hollywood (north of Miami) get thousands of players.
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Is Poker Legal in Georgia?
Gambling in general is not a priority of the hardcore Christian conservative movement, which is active in Georgia, As such, poker is not legal in any form in Georgia, and is considered a misdemeanor to engage in unregulated gambling.
That applies to both online poker and live poker, meaning if you want to play cards legally and live in Georgia, you’ll have to travel to Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, or Mississippi to get some action. There’s no reason to expect much to change on this front in the next few years, and potentially much longer.
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Is Poker Legal in Hawaii?
Hawaii, along with Utah, is one of two states that has no form of legalized gambling. That includes slots, table games, lottery, and sports betting. Oh, and of course, poker, both online and live.
There are no online poker rooms in Hawaii, one of the smallest states in the country by area and population. And, due to the stringent gambling laws, there are also no land-based card rooms across the state, although you might find some underground games that aren’t regulated.
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Is Poker Legal in Idaho?
You can play with your guns all you like legally in Idaho, but you can’t play poker without breaking the law, sadly. According to state law, the game is deemed illegal and that isn’t going to change any time soon. Even worse, poker players in Idaho don’t have any nearby places to travel outside of Eastern Washington and Northern Nevada (Reno/Tahoe), but those are a bit of a hike.
In 2014, a tribal casino in Coeur D’Alene opened a live poker room, but the state fought to have it shut down and eventually won the case. That put an end to an end to any live poker in Idaho outside of the illegal, unregulated underground games.
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Is Poker Legal in Illinois?
The answer to this question is yes and no, and we’ll explain that right here. The “no” answer is for online poker as no pro-poker bill has made its way through the House. But there has been some optimism on that front in recent years especially after sports betting became legalized. So, there is some hope for the future.
Illinois isn’t an anti-gambling state, they just haven’t caught on with the online poker. When it comes to live poker, however, that is legal in the Land of Lincoln at all land-based casinos. That said, most of the top poker rooms in the Chicago area are actually across the border over on the Indiana side.
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Is Poker Legal in Indiana?
It’s a double-edged sword in Indiana. What we mean by that is poker is a legal game, Indiana residents just can’t legally play it on the internet. That’s caused a problem as poker has a massive following in the Hoosier State and many of those players would love to play online. Unfortunately, they have to travel up north to Michigan if they want to play on an unregulated site.
But there is some good news for those visiting Indiana. Live poker has long been booming in the state, especially in the Chicagoland area (Hammond, Indiana). Many major events such as the World Series of Poker Circuit series have made it to Indiana over the years and will continue to do so in the future.
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Is Poker Legal in Iowa?
Poker is and isn’t legal in Iowa, it just depends on how you want to play. What we mean by that is online poker isn’t legal in any form and there aren’t any licensed or regulated poker sites within the Hawkeye State. But there has been some discussion among Iowa lawmakers to bring legal online poker to the state, although it isn’t considered a major issue.
Live poker, on the other hand, has been booming for many years in the great state of Iowa. In Des Moines, Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino have been home to a solid card room since 2004, and there are popular poker rooms on the western and eastern parts of the state, along with up north near the Minnesota border.
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Is Poker Legal in Kansas?
Kansas offers state lottery and pari-mutuel wagering options, but it is a long way from offering online poker. The state allowed Native American-operated casinos for decades before in 2007 introducing a bill allowing other land-based casinos as well. As of 2022, there are nine casinos with six operated by Native American tribes, four of which are Kansas-based, and two run by the Wayandotte Nation of Oklahoma.
The prospects for online gaming in Kansas appear bleak with very little discussion in recent years and it isn't looked upon with a bright light. As an example, a gambling expansion bill introduced in 2014 sought to establish a new casino but also contained an amendment that banned online gambling and classified it as a misdemeanor. That amendment passed before the entire bill was put up for a vote and failed, with the whole process providing an indication of the currently dim view of iGaming in the state.
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Is Poker Legal in Kentucky?
Kentucky has traditionally taken a hard stance against gambling outside of its three racinos and state-run lottery. The racinos are allowed to offer skill-based slot games with more traditional slot games relying solely on luck not permitted. Also allowed are pari-mutuel betting, bingo halls, horse racing, and dog racing.
The Bluegrass State has taken an even tougher stance against online gaming. In 2011, Kentucky attempted to "seize" Internet poker domain names for several popular online poker sites, claiming that they were the "sole owner of the property and entitled to possession." Three years earlier the state had attempted the same thing with 141 Internet gambling domain names in an attempt to "stop illegal Internet gambling that is occurring within the Commonwealth, in blatant disregard for and violation of Kentucky anti-gambling law and public nuisance law."
In 2023, for the fifth consecutive year, legislation was introduced for the regulation of online poker. House Bill 106, which focused on sports betting and daily fantasy sports as well as online poker, was sponsored by House Democrats Rep. Derrick Graham, Rep. Cherlynn Stevenson, and Rep. Rachel Roberts. The bill aims to exempt those online games from existing bans, and while it's still technically on the table, fears are that it'll follow in the footsteps of previous attempts and fall flat.
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Is Poker Legal in Louisiana?
Louisiana has allowed for casinos for decades. The Bayou State houses four federally-approved Indian casinos and 43 state-licensed casinos.
Despite what was previously a strict stance by Louisiana against online gaming, discussions concerning iGaming regulation began in 2014 when the state kicked off the year by considering an online gambling bill. The presentation was a result of State Rep. Mike Huval's March 2013 request for a House Concurrent Resolution to study iGaming implications in the state.
In 2021, Louisiana lawmakers approved legislation legalizing sports betting in the state, and retail wagering began later that year. It’s possible that online poker could follow in the years to come.
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Is Poker Legal in Maine?
As of 2022, Maine law allows for two casinos with the Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway and the Oxford Casino, which opened on June 5, 2012. There's only one authorized venue for poker which is the Hollywood Casino Bangor.
In early 2019, a sports betting bill was introduced that if passed would permit wagering on professional and college sports for both retail and online operations. That bill stalled but sports betting is now legal in Maine, with the law allowing online and retail sports betting effective in August 2022. It looks like it won’t be enacted until 2023 or 2024.
Unfortunately, no movement has been made in Maine as of late regarding online poker.
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Is Poker Legal in Maryland?
Maryland is another state that has expanded land-based gambling offerings with six casinos. MGM National Harbor was the latest casino to open its doors in December 2016 and has the most table games in the state, whereas Live! Casino & Hotel has the most slot machines.
Maryland lawmakers have talked about online gambling for several years, but the discussion has mostly centered upon legalizing of online lottery ticket sales while poker has taken a back seat. While Maryland's brick-and-mortar casinos continue to thrive, it appears online gambling, with the exception of sports betting, will remain on the back burner for the near future at least.
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Is Poker Legal in Massachusetts?
Gambling in Massachusetts was finally signed into law in 2011. However, the first commercial casino only opened to business seven years later. The Expanded Gaming Act, passed on November 22, 2011, allowed MA to have three resort casinos and one slot parlor. Plainridge Park Casino, the first slot parlor, opened to business in 2015. MGM Springfield, the first commercial casino in the Bay State, opened to business in 2018. A year later, Encore Boston Harbor joined the list.
Most of Massachusetts’ gaming sphere might be new, but it’s showing rapid progression with its land-based casinos and sports betting (which is sure to have a banner inaugural year in 2023). Online poker, although not currently offered, could be in an option someday soon.
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Is Poker Legal in Michigan?
Michigan offers a bountiful selection of live poker, online poker, and was admitted to the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), which allows Michigan players to compete in a combined pool with players from New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware. Ever since they dealt their first hand of online poker back on January 29, 2021, Michigan has been one of the hottest online poker markets in the United States.
On January 1, 2023, PokerStars became the first, and thus far only, operator to link their Michigan player pool with another state. By joining PokerStars New Jersey, the merged network immediately became the largest in the United States, even surpassing the WSOP.com interstate network (Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware).
"Michigan and New Jersey joining forces is great news for our players in these two states, and poker, more generally," said PokerStars US Managing Director, Severin Rasset. "As it promises a better experience and even more value, all with the confidence provided by a trusted, licensed operator.”
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Is Poker Legal in Minnesota?
Minnesota does sport a modest casino and poker culture with 23 brick and mortar casinos, many of which accept patrons who are 18 and over, although some are for ages 21 and up.
However, online gambling has struggled to establish any kind of foothold. In fact, it's been quite the opposite. Online lottery sales were permitted for a brief time before state legislators made two pushes to put a stop to that. On the second effort, they succeeded, and the state has appeared to have gone backward in terms of precedent that might favor online poker.
Minnesota seems unlikely to get anything rolling any time soon, much to the dismay of the many poker players participating in the thriving live scene there.
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Is Poker Legal in Mississippi?
Mississippi has had a bit of a hot-and-cold relationship with gambling over the years. For many years, Mississippi was one of the few places with an established brick-and-mortar casino industry featuring slots and table games, joining Atlantic City as a secondary hotbed of gambling after the runaway industry leaders in Las Vegas.
At this point, the state sports 30 state-regulated casinos, mostly located on the Gulf Coast and along the river. Mississippi became one of the first states to jump on board the sports betting train, and it would seem online poker would be a natural fit. However, there has been development in that regard legislatively speaking.
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Is Poker Legal in Missouri?
Casino gambling has a bit of a foothold in Missouri, but in general, the state doesn't appear to have a particularly favorable outlook on gambling. That means that while progress is possible, it isn't particularly likely at this juncture.
Missouri law never truly addressed daily fantasy sports, leaving the state like others as a gray area with regard to DFS. More telling, the sports betting legislation mania sweeping through the nation never got to Missouri. A number of bills have been introduced but there's been no concrete momentum.
If sports betting, with a far bigger market than online poker, can't get any traction, there's zero hope for online poker at the moment.
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Is Poker Legal in Montana?
Montana adheres to its history as a wild West state when it comes to gambling law, holding a unique position as the only state allowing casino-style gambling outside of casinos. The way this actually manifests is that hundreds of bars across the state serve as sort of hybrid entertainment locations, offering live poker, video poker, video lottery, keno, and off-track betting.
But while Montana is pretty relaxed when it comes to many forms of gambling, the same can't be said about online gambling. Right now, online poker would appear to be a distant hope.
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Is Poker Legal in Nebraska?
Few states are more anti-gambling than Nebraska. As one of the most gambling-averse states, there are very few states further away from legalizing online gambling than Nebraska. Don't expect any movement here until far in the future, if it ever happens at all.
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Is Poker Legal in Nevada?
Nevada is one of the few states in the US that allows for legal, regulated online poker. This means that the state has set forth some rules regarding who can and cannot play online poker, as well as how it will be controlled and monitored.
WSOP.com is the only current legal online poker site for players in Las Vegas and the state of Nevada. It’s also the only Nevada-based site to allow you to compete in online bracelet events for a chance at a coveted gold bracelet.
The online poker platform allows players to compete against a player pool filled with users in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware, due to the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement and offers real money cash games and tournaments at various stakes and in various formats.
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Is Poker Legal in New Hampshire?
Casinos and casino-style betting are not allowed in New Hampshire. Repeated efforts over the last two decades to pass legislation to allow casinos in the state have routinely failed.
In 2019, New Hampshire lawmakers approved a bill legalizing sports betting in the state. Sportbooks launched in New Hampshire in early 2020. Despite that, the idea of online poker in New Hampshire seems more of a hope than a reality.
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Is Poker Legal in New Jersey?
Home to Atlantic City, New Jersey had its first casino open up in 1978. Online poker was late to the game and was legalized in New Jersey in 2013 after poker's Black Friday two years prior. They became the third state to legalize online poker and remains one of the largest online poker markets in the United States.
PokerStars and WSOP NJ lead the pack of seven sites to choose from to play online poker in New Jersey. However, many others including BetMGM and Borgata offer a great option to start playing online poker in New Jersey.
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Is poker legal in New Mexico?
While New Mexico has a thriving live poker scene that has been around for decades, there is no online poker in the state and there is no significant impetus among lawmakers currently to introduce online gambling and/or poker in the state.
That said, New Mexico lawmakers did vote in October 2018 to allow sports betting and the state has a long tradition of horse track betting dating back to the 1940s.
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Is poker legal in New York?
New York State lawmakers have been attempting to legalize online poker since 2014 but have never had any success in doing so. Live poker was only allowed at tribal casinos until 2013, when commercial casinos were made legal and began offering poker games.
But after legalizing sports betting in 2022, New York could be one of the next states to legalize online poker.
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Is poker legal in North Carolina?
There is currently no legislation permitting online poker in North Carolina and there hasn’t been any movement in recent years to change that. The only live poker options are at the tribal casinos Harrah’s Cherokee and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel.
Lawmakers approved retail sports betting in 2019 but shot down a mobile sports betting proposal in 2022.
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Is poker legal in North Dakota?
While online poker is not currently legal in North Dakota and the state has traditionally been resistant to gaming expansion, there was a lot of movement in 2021 to legalize online poker.
But those efforts have yet to culminate and North Dakota residents will have to wait to see if lawmakers change their minds.
The state does allow poker and gambling at Native American-owned casinos and nonprofit “charitable gaming” casinos.
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Is poker legal in Ohio?
Despite imposing many rules on online gaming, Ohio lawmakers have yet to legalize online poker or approve any online poker laws.
Ohio lawmakers did legalize sports betting in 2021 but there has been little movement with online poker. Ohio was a hotbed for illicit gambling in the early 1900s until 1990 when casino legalization was first introduced to the state.
Additionally, lawmakers have relaxed laws in recent years to permit home games.
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Is poker legal in Oklahoma?
While live poker has been allowed at land-based tribal casinos like Choctaw Casino Resort and Winstar World Casino and Resort, there is no online poker in Oklahoma.
State lawmakers considered regulating online poker in 2013 but haven’t spoken about the issue and aren’t expected to break their silence any time soon.
Lawmakers did consider a bill in 2022 to legalize sports betting but the bill failed to pass.
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Is poker legal in Oregon?
There is no online poker in Oregon and the state has explicit anti-iGaming and anti-poker betting laws that prohibit online poker operators from accepting payments via the internet.
Additionally, Oregon does not regulate lawful poker rooms outside of charity games and real cash poker betting facilities. People in Oregon can also legally wager real money on horse races and in lotteries.
Oregon lawmakers approved a bill legalizing sports betting in 2019 and the first sportsbook launched later that year.
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Is poker legal in Pennsylvania?
|Online Poker Status: Legal|
|Can you play on PokerStars from PA?: Yes - PokerStars PA|
|Other Poker Sites: BetMGM Poker PA & WSOP PA|
Yes. Online poker has been legal in Pennsylvania since 2017 when lawmakers passed HB 271, which also legalized other forms of online gambling.
The first legal poker site in the state, PokerStars PA, went live in 2019 and other sites followed suit in 2021, including WSOP PA and BetMGM Poker PA. There are other operators that have secured licenses in Pennsylvania but haven’t yet launched sites, including partypoker and GGPoker. If you're looking to play poker freerolls in Pennsylvania, looking for the best poker bonuses in Pennsylvania, or just want to quickly play at one of the best online poker sites in PA, PokerNews has you covered.
Table games have been legal in Pennsylvania since 2010 and there are plenty of live poker options, including at well-known casinos like Live! Casino Philadelphia, Delaware Park, and Parx Casino.
Additionally, Pennsylvania has offered legal daily fantasy sports since 2018 and the state also allows horse racing and lotteries, while esports wagering is currently prohibited.
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Is poker legal in Rhode Island?
There is no online or live poker in Rhode Island and there is no legal online gambling in Rhode Island.
Legalized gambling in Rhode Island dates back to 1934 when voters approved parimutuel betting on horse races. Four decades later, Rhode Island also legalized pull-tab lottery games and bingo.
Rhode Island lawmakers did approve a bill in 2018 to legalize sports betting, but don’t expect poker to make its way to the state any time soon. If the state does revisit its online gambling laws, it will likely be through a voter referendum.
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Is poker legal in South Carolina?
There is no online or live poker in South Carolina and it seems unlikely that either will be making its way to the state any time soon.
South Carolina has some of the most stringent anti-gambling laws in the country and it is illegal to even own gambling devices. Sports betting is also prohibited in the southern state.
The state does allow lotteries, in-state and multi-state drawings and “Charitable or House-Based Gambling,” but only under very strict definitions.
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Is poker legal in South Dakota?
There is no online poker in South Dakota and it isn’t something lawmakers have considered in recent years.
South Dakota does allow casinos and poker on tribal lands and the city of Deadwood is a historically important poker site as it is where James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok played the “dead man's hand” before being killed in 1876.
Bars and taverns in South Dakota have a limited number of “video lottery terminals” that offer keno, blackjack, bingo, and video poker.
In 2020, South Dakota voters approved sports betting and the first legal sportsbooks reached the state in 2021.
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Is poker legal in Tennessee?
There is no online or live poker in Tennessee and it seems unlikely that either will be reaching the state any time soon.
In 2019, a law went into effect allowing online sports betting in Tennessee, and sites like Fanduel TN, Draftkings TN, BetMGM TN, and Bet365 TN launched the following year. The Tennessee Sports Gaming Act does not allow brick-and-mortar sportsbooks.
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Is poker legal in Texas?
There is no online poker in Texas and the state has some of the strictest gambling laws in the country.
However, live poker is available through a legal loophole that allows poker rooms to operate within the law. The legality of these poker rooms is under dispute and state lawmakers plan to address Texas Penal Code 47.04 in 2023.
Some of the best live poker rooms in Texas include the 52 Social Club, Texas Card House, and The Lodge Card Club.
Since gambling is technically illegal except on Native American reservations, there are no traditional brick-and-mortar casinos in the Lone Star State.
Texas does not have legal sports betting and has not addressed the subject since the 2018 US Supreme Court ruling.
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Is poker legal in Utah?
As one of the most conservative states in the country, Utah does not offer online or live poker and don’t hold your breath for that to change any time soon.
Utah’s state criminal code explicitly bans online gambling and states that even if it’s legalized on the federal level, they don’t want it in Utah.
Online casinos and sports betting are also forbidden and the Beehive State as the law prohibits citizens from betting anything of value “on the outcome of a contest, game, scheme, or gaming device.”
Is poker legal in Vermont?
There is no online or live poker in Vermont and state lawmakers are unlikely to consider changing that in the near future.
One of the least populated states in the country, there are no casinos or racetracks in operation and residents must travel to outside states like Connecticut if they wish to gamble.
Vermont does have a state lottery and horse racing is technically legal despite there being no tracks in operation. Charities are permitted to hold bingo, raffles, and casino nights. There is also no sports betting in Vermont.
Despite not offering online poker, Vermont spoke out against the US government’s interpretation of the Wire Act and was critical in getting that opinion clarified.
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Is poker legal in Virginia?
Casinos and greyhound racing are currently prohibited in Virginia. While horse racing was once allowed, that market has dried up as its last racetrack, Colonial Downs, was converted into a golf course.
However, the state does offer off-track betting parlors and allows for some charitable gambling. There's also a state lottery that includes Mega Millions and Powerball, and in 2016 they became the first state to legalize and regulate Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS).
For years it looked as if Virginia would have nothing to do with online gaming, but an online gambling expansion bill in 2019 — one that passed the House, Senate, and received a signature from Governor Ralph Northam — brought about new hope of casinos, online poker, and sports betting coming to the state.
The bill was signed into law in March 2019. In regards to brick-and-mortar casinos, state-licensed casinos have been approved in four cities – one in Portsmouth that is expected to open in 2023, and the other three in Bristol, Danville, and Norfolk, each expected to open in 2024.
Sports betting was legalized in Virginia in April 2020 and launched in January 2021. It operates under the authority of the Virginia Lottery and has proven to be a strong market.
Unfortunately, there hasn’t been any recent talk of online poker in Virginia, so while it’s possible in the future given the state’s current gaming landscape, it wouldn’t be anytime soon if at all.
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Is poker legal in Washington?
Casinos are allowed in Washington, albeit only on Indian reservations. There are nearly three dozen casinos in Washington operated by more than two dozen different tribes. Among Washington state casinos are Muckleshoot Casino, Tulalip Resort Casino and Emerald Queen Casino, to name just a few.
The casinos fall under the supervision of the Washington State Gambling Commission, which also authorizes and regulates social gambling activities such as bracket and office sports pools.
While Washington has embraced many forms of gambling, online gaming is not one of them. In fact, in 2006 they passed a law that made it a Class C felony to play poker online. It was challenged in 2012 but reaffirmed by a judge. As such, almost all online operators, including those offering free play options, have pulled out of Washington state.
While many states are considering online gaming and others take a "wait-and-see" approach, Washington actively stands against it. It'll take a lot for that to change — most notably the tribes fighting against it. Don't expect a change in the Washington online gaming landscape for quite some time, if ever.
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Is poker legal in West Virginia?
West Virginia online poker sites will eventually become a reality, hopefully before long. We just don't know exactly when that will happen because that's all reliant on gaming companies determining there'd be a financial benefit to launching a poker site. But there's reason to be optimistic about the future of internet poker in the Mountain State.
First things first, yes, it is perfectly legal to play online poker in West Virginia. So, why aren't locals across the state able to play? Quite simply put, the poker sites haven't yet arrived. The entire process of attempting to launch a poker platform takes time and involves applying for a gaming license, developing the software, and many other steps along the way, all of which cost money and time. At this point, no iGaming company has stepped up to make it happen.
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Is poker legal in Wisconsin?
There is no shortage of tribal casinos in Wisconsin with approximately two dozen properties owned by 11 tribes spread throughout the state.
In 2013, online gaming murmurs came out of the "Dairy State" when the sovereign Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians took the first step toward iGaming when they launched a play-for-fun site for their Lake of the Torches Casino Resort.
Unfortunately for fans of the game of poker, there has been zero movement since with tribes seemingly more focused on in-state brick-and-mortar expansion than anything else.
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Is poker legal in Wyoming?
The least populous state in the country, Wyoming doesn’t tend to be a pioneer when it comes to gaming. In fact, they didn’t offer a lottery until 2013, becoming the 44th state to do so.
Even so, the state has taken a conservative approach banning scratch-off tickets and the sale of lottery tickets via independent machines.
That said, the state is home to several tribal casinos including Little Wind Casino, Shoshone Rose Casino, Wind River Casino, and 789 Smokeshop & Casino. Of those, only Wind River offers poker, which used to include the annual Wyoming State Poker Championship tournament. However, due to Covid regulations, poker is limited to a single table with plexiglass dividers.
As it stands, online poker is unlikely to ever come to Wyoming.
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Is Poker Legal in the US FAQs
What states offer legal online poker?
As of early 2023, six states have legalized online poker – Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Michigan.
Why is online poker not legal in the whole of the US?
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 makes it challenging for gaming operators to offer services to the United States as a whole. Instead, they must deal with each state individually, and only those states with applicable laws will allow online poker as part of their gaming offerings.
What online poker sites are legal in the US?
Legal online poker sites in the United States varies from state to state, but among the biggest are WSOP.com (via 888poker), PokerStars, and BetMGM (AKA PartyPoker US).
Can I play online poker for fun in the US?
Yes, while real-money gaming is restricted throughout the United States, free play money options are open to most. Most sites, such as PokerStars, allow players to get the online poker experience for free by playing in play money ring games and tournaments.
When will online poker be fully legal in the US?
Online poker will never be fully legal in the United States as a whole. Instead, the issue will be taken up on a state-by-state basis. Ideally, numerous states would pass online poker legislation and then enter into an interstate compact allowing them to join their player pools, much like the lottery system in the USA.
Can I play PokerStars in the US?
Yes, you can play PokerStars for real money in Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. PokerStars Michigan and New Jersey merged on January 1, 2023, meaning players benefitted from a merged player pool. Players located outside those states cannot play on PokerStars for real money, but they are able to play for free for play money on PokerStars.net.