Is Online Poker Legal Or Illegal?

Online poker is legal. Online poker is not legal. Online poker can be played in some states, but not all. Online poker can't be played in any state. Which one is correct? These are often statements that we hear or read about frequently. And there is a reason for that. The topic of online poker in the U.S. and for American players is complex and a bit murky. There are state laws and federal laws that come into play, as well at poker rooms that aren't even in the United States. Many parts exist for American online poker, but when taking the time to understand the status of it, things can become much clearer.

The important issues of legal Internet poker in the United States is addressed below, and attacked from a couple of different angles, because it has to be. By the end of this you could be saying to yourself 'oh, that wasn't too hard to understand'. Or you could be saying to yourself 'why don't they just get their act together and have a uniform industry, this is all too much to keep up with.' And the ironic part is that either statement wouldn't be wrong.

Is Online Poker Legal For Players In The United States?

Yes, there is legal online poker that can be played in the U.S., on two levels actually. However, one level extends to every state in the country while the other level is only to a select few. Let's address why legal online poker can be done by residents in every state first.

There is a federal law known as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act that was passed back in 2006. This Act extends to gambling businesses online in the United States no longer allowing them to knowing accepts bets or wagers for money. The result of this Act was the closing and in many cases the seizing of such sites by the federal government. Not to be outdone by the U.S. government though, some online poker sites decided to set up outside of the U.S., but still elected to allow American players. No laws were being broken since they aren't in the U.S. And with the UIGEA pertaining to businesses only, American players can still sign up and play at these sites.

The other angle to mention is state regulation of online poker sites. This is on the comeback in several states highlights by Nevada and New Jersey. Legislation is being passed and put into action, but only on a limited basis, and not to the level of offshore sites being able to accept all Americans. This is talked about in our next section.

Are Online Poker Sites In The U.S. Legal?

Online poker sites would violate the UIGEA due to deposit restrictions however, there are states that are choosing to go with their own poker legislation. In fact, a main argument surrounding online gambling in the U.S. are states’ rights, and whether or not they should be able to govern themselves completely when it comes to online gambling.

We mentioned Nevada and New Jersey above. They are not the only states to pass such legislation, but they are the two biggest on the gambling world. Nevada has Las Vegas, while New Jersey has Atlantic City.

Nevada passed a bill in early 2013 which calls for legal online poker, and has already begun to make use of it. It's in the beginning stages and quite limited, but the passing of such legislation is big news for those who want it legal.

As for New Jersey, online poker is expected to be the leading game when the 12 Atlantic City casino online versions come about. This shouldn't be a surprise. How these two states measure up with success of regulated online poker could be very telling for the future of it.

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