Is It Illegal To Play Online Poker In The US

Is It Illegal To Play Online Poker In The US?

The question of whether online poker is not allowed in the US keeps popping in people’s minds within and outside the US. The confusion is glaring. To start with, a distinction should be made between offshore poker and inland poker playing rules. There are both clear and intrinsic laws attached to poker sites. Poker is, generally, illegal in the US but…


Is It Illegal To Play Online Poker In The US?
Is It Illegal To Play Online Poker In The US?


State versus Individual

It becomes complicated when people play poker as individuals. One might as well conclude that poker is legal at the individual level. It is also apparent that most of the states in the US have no specific laws that address gambling, and even where there are laws, they seem to be ignored. However, some states have expressly legislated on gambling. The New York state laws have declared online poker a felony punishable by law. Indeed, the laws have zeroed in on individuals to the extent that one can be prosecuted for installing poker software on their computer.


Turning the Blind Eye

While some states have come up with laws against gambling and poker, records show that no one so far has ever been prosecuted for playing poker online. There have not been any online poker arrests of individuals, even in states such as Louisiana and Utah which have laws targeting individual poker gaming. This does not mean that online poker is extinct in such states. Indeed, the states may well be home to some of the most ardent online poker enthusiasts. The number of people who play poker online in such states may even be higher than that in states that don’t. The law has simply decided to ignore the felony.


Where it is Legal

Since you ask the question, it would probably suit you to know where you can play poker online in the US without the fear of being the first one to be apprehended by the authorities. You have the freedom to play poker without the fear of anyone breathing down your neck in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey.



The US Congress passed the UIGEA Law way back in 2006. The law does not address individuals engaging in playing poker but it outlaws any attempt to offer online poker platforms to US citizens to lure them into playing the game. The effect was actually no effect at all on individual poker players since poker is still being played unabated in the US. However, the law was not toothless at all times. Offshore companies that offered poker gaming to American citizens were prosecuted. Banks with poker-related transactions were put to task.


The Green-light

The state department reversed the 1961 Wire Act at some point after the passing of the UIGEA law. Effectively some states were granted the green light to allow online poker when played within the state. The state of Nevada was the first one to pass an online poker law following the review of the Wire Act.


Unregulated and regulated Online Poker

It will help you to learn that there is a difference between playing on regulated sites and playing it on sites with no regulation at all. Some states have laws that regulate online poker, yet others are still grappling with the idea. Regulated sites pay taxes to the states where they belong. Unregulated sites originate from all over and ideally violate the UIGEA Law of the US.



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Doris Jensen
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Doris Jensen

Doris is a professional casino blog author that writes about everything about the online casino industry.