Is Online Poker Legal?

Welcome to, where we intend on helping everyone learn more about legal online poker in each state. According to the American Gaming Association, the premier lobbying and trade representative of the casino industry, more than one in three Americans placed at least one legal wager in a casino, or on a cruise ship, in 2012. It’s a safe bet that at least that many placed a legal wager online.

Simply put, legal gambling is an industry generating nearly $37 billion dollars per year in the U.S. alone, making it an important factor in the overall economy. And the most popular game, by far, both in casinos and online, is poker. ESPN has turned Texas Hold’Em into a spectator sport – but poker has been an American favorite since the first saloons opened west of the Mississippi.

Today the conversation often comes back to the question of what is legal, and what is not, when it comes to games of chance in America. Poker tables are full, in casinos and man-caves, every time someone breaks out the chips, so it is important to consider the laws that govern this popular pastime. We’ll do that today at, and hopefully answer any questions you may have.

Is online poker legal for U.S. players?

It’s clear, based on the fact that no one ever gets arrested coming out of Caesars Palace, that playing poker at a licensed casino in the U.S. is legal. But what about the internet? Well, it is also true that no U.S. citizen has ever been arrested for simply making a bet at an online poker site. But does that mean it’s legal to play poker online? Not necessarily.

Let’s stress here that there are indeed many, many web-based poker sites where U.S. players can enjoy the thrill of filling an inside straight in a legal, safe fashion. Most of these sites are based in foreign countries, for since a massive Justice Department crackdown in early 2011, online poker in the United States has been regulated and restricted, on the federal level, to the point of near extinction.

But things are changing, and changing for the better. The federal government, in a recognition of priorities, has begun to focus on more important issues than whether Americans place a bet. On the state level, New Jersey has passed, and Gov. Chris Christie has signed, a bill that will allow intra-state online poker to proceed. Although courts have ruled that the 1992 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) is constitutional, the devil is in the enforcement details. And in this case, the law only applies to banks, not to individuals. All this means things are looking brighter for U.S. citizens wanting to enjoy a legal poker game online, and municipalities and states poised to reap the benefits of increased revenues.

Facts About Playing Legal Online Poker In The U.S.A.

  • Even on black Friday, no players were arrested for playing online poker
  • There is still several legal online poker sites that accept U.S. players
  • The first legal poker site regulated by the U.S. Government just opened up, but only to Nevada Players
  • There is still more then 2 million active online poker players that live in the U.S.

Legal Online Poker Sites That Accept U.S. Residents

Offshore sites which are not subject to regulation by the U.S. federal government offer the best options for legal online poker in the USA. This is because there is only one online poker room that is located in the USA and regulated, but it is only open to Nevada residents. "Being Regulated" basicly just means that they will make sure you pay your taxes on your winnings and does not mean that this site is any safer then what is located offshore. There are millions of U.S. residents that play at offshore poker sites every year, and not one of them have ever been arrested. Today we’ll take a look at a few of the best, most popular legal poker sites for U.S. citizens.

BetOnline Poker - One Of The Fastest Growing Poker Sites Online

BetOnline Poker – Long considered one of the premier sports betting sites, BetOnline is fast becoming one of the most popular poker sites on the web. A variety of tournaments are always in play, and start times are listed in time for players to plan their strategies. The entire poker dictionary is in play here – any game you want, you’ll find at BetOnline.

Like most of the best sites, BetOnline uses software that works with Macs and PC’s, and also offers applications that make smart phones a useful poker-playing tool. The software download is easy and safe, quickly passing through the most stringent security scans your computer can run. Load up, set up your account, and you can be enjoying the fun at BetOnline in a matter of minutes, playing for free or, better yet, betting and winning some real cash.

Bonuses for clients – yes, at BetOnline you’re not a “customer”, but a “client” – are extensive and generous. And regardless of where you live, you can earn those benefits at this Panama-based site. BetOnline dedicates itself to creating a legal, safe, secure and enjoyable place for U.S. citizens to play poker online.

5Dimes Poker - One Of The Most Trusted Legal Poker Sites

5Dimes Poker – At 5Dimes Casino poker room, it’s all about the software. If you don’t believe it, just ask the folks at 5Dimes. They tout their revamped software, provided now by casino-savvy Real Time Gaming, as the reason for their tremendous growth and success as a legal poker powerhouse site for American players.

5Dimes offers gaming options you may not find at some less-enabled sites – things like 32-card poker, which allows for faster action and higher-ranked hands, and “straddle bets”, which make Hold’em games wilder and more profitable for the winner, are now 5Dimes trademarks. 5Dimes also offers time-based tournaments for people who want to squeeze in a little gambling fun between meetings. All you have to do to win here is have the most chips when the clock runs out. Fun? Absolutely.

5Dimes poker room is not well-known for providing outlandish bonuses for online players, but dedicates itself to exciting games and big payouts for all players. And players anywhere in the U.S. can play legally at 5Dimes, although citizens of Maryland, Washington state and Washington D.C. will find their deposit and payout methods limited to bank wire transfers.

Game after game, tourney after tourney, a poker player looking for a legal and fun game will never get bored at 5Dimes.

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Online Poker Laws In The United States

The U.S. Congress has been involved in regulating gambling since long before the internet became an issue. The Wire Act of 1961 prohibited transfer of gambling information, bets and payoffs via telephone or telegraph, but did not specifically outlaw gambling per se. And that has been the trend – the laws the federal government has enacted, and that have stood up to judicial scrutiny, are all aimed at financial institutions. The goal has been to reduce or eliminate the presence of organized crime in an endeavor that is enjoyed by millions of U.S. citizens.

The Wire Act was ultimately determined to apply only to sports betting, in a Supreme Court ruling in 2011. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was specifically designed to apply only to sports betting. Thus, the only statute left, on a federal level, which could come into play where online poker is concerned is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 1992. But this is the prime example of a statute applying to banks, not to individuals.

Bottom line? It is legal for U.S. citizens to play poker online at sites not located in the U.S., because those sites are not required to adhere to U.S. law. If the laws of the host nation allow U.S. players, it is totally legal and safe.

Getting Started At Legal Online Poker Sites

Once you’ve decided to join the fun, you’ll be required to set up an account – legal online poker sites do not offer credit. If someone tries to convince you otherwise, run away.

Setting up an account at most of the best sites is easy. You’ll provide some basic personal information, create a password, and choose a method of deposit. This can be done, in the vast majority of cases, through Visa credit card, and often with debit cards, Mastercard or American Express. Other methods often accepted in legal poker sites include bank wire transfer, Western Union Rapid Transfer or Moneygram.

If you’ve hit a big pot, or simply want to withdraw funds from an existing account, most of these methods apply. U.S. citizens may not have their winnings credited back to their credit card accounts, due to restrictions laid out in the UIGEA. But funds can be processed and sent via bank wire transfer, and many sites will offer payouts through Western Union or Moneygram. Some sites will also pay you via cashier’s check, if you desire – but this process takes much longer, meaning your money is not available to you when you may need or want it.

More Questions Regarding Legal Online Poker In The U.S.

How old do I have to be to play poker online as a U.S. citizen? – Do you have a voter registration? If so, you’re 18, which means you can legally play poker online at the vast majority of sites. A few countries still require sites to maintain a legal gambling age of 21, but that’s very few.

Will I get in trouble for betting on poker online? – Only if you are underage, or maybe trying to run your own illegal poker site. If you’re playing on one of our recommended sites or others that meet the legal requirements, you’re okay.

Do different states have different poker laws? – Absolutely. Twenty-three states already sanction legal gambling, and some have legal online gaming provisions. All apply only to activities within state borders, so it’s important to check the applicable laws of the state in which you live or plan to visit.

The Future Of Legal Online Poker In 2017 And Beyond

We’ve covered a lot of information relating to playing legal online poker in the United States. It’s important to emphasize that this is a fluid issue – things are moving so fast it’s sometimes hard to keep up. New Jersey is leading the charge for a major “rethink” in how we view a type of online activity enjoyed by millions of law-abiding Americans. Other statehouses are watching closely and, as mentioned earlier, the Justice Department has determined that other priorities take precedence over this rather harmless yet enjoyable pastime.

All things considered, it’s looking pretty good for poker lovers who want to legally and safely enjoy the thrill and excitement of placing a bet, watching the cards fall, and sweeping a big pot. The first legal onliner poker site that is fully regulated and approved by the U.S. government has just opened up, but it is only open to residents of Nevada for now. However, they have full intentions of opening the website up to interstate poker, meaning that you can play from any state that passes a bill that regulates legal online poker in the particular state. There are several states that have online poker laws in the works, and all we can do is hope that they pass.

In short, things look awesom right now as far as legal online poker is concerned. You are welcome to play at any of the online poker sites that accept US players, but know that they are not regulated and approved by the government, for what that is worth.