Is playing online poker legal in the U.S?
The simple answer to this question is yes, online poker is legal in the United States. It is not considered legal on a federal level, yet most states don’t have specific laws against it. A few states such as Washington, criminalize online gambling and consider it a felony. Other states have legislation against individual gamblers, including Utah and Louisiana and both states criminalise online poker by default. Having said so, no one has ever been arrested or prosecuted on a federal or on a state level for playing online poker.
Basically speaking, it’s safe to play online poker in the U.S. Our only advice is; choose your casino wisely. There are currently 4 states that offer legal online poker rooms including; New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware, as well as Pennsylvania, the latest state to join the group. Online casinos based out of these 4 states abide by local gaming regulations and pay taxes to the state government. Regulations help protect the player in case their funds are lost or stolen or if they feel they have been wronged by a particular online poker room.
New Jersey is considered the largest regulated market of online gambling with over 12 legally licensed sites which offer poker. New Jersey’s online gambling market is estimated at $225 million a year. On the other hand, the first state to ever operate legal online casinos was Delaware, operating since 2013. Currently, 3 major sites from Delaware are frequented by poker players including; Delaware Park, Dover Downs, and Harrington Raceway. The mentioned Delaware casinos offer a variety of blackjack, roulette, slots as well as video poker games. The Delaware market is considered relatively small compared to New Jersey, bringing in approximately $2.6 million in revenues a year. Other states such as Nevada, which you might expect would live up to its land-based casino reputation when it comes to online casinos, are operating only one gambling website at the moment. WSOP NV is the only active online gambling platform in Nevada, yet, it is considered one of the strongest as it pools its players from New Jersey and Delaware, creating a strong pool of opponents. Finally, Pennsylvania was the most recent state to regulate online poker this summer.
There are alternative off-shore online casinos which offer poker rooms to American players, but we must warn you that they are unregulated as they do not follow US gaming laws. A major downside to using offshore gambling sites is that it leaves the player with almost no legal standing. On the upside, unregulated sites pay little to no taxes, allowing them to offer great incentives to attract players in terms of deposits and promotions. It is worth mentioning that offshore sites usually offer much larger player pools than state-licensed rooms. Global Poker, is one of the most popular offshore sites for American poker players. The site was launched in December 2016 and offers a form of virtual currency gaming which can be later converted into real money via Paypal. This is most convenient for U.S based players as they can withdraw winnings easily and frequently.