Is Online Poker Legal in the United States?
As we end 2020 and head into 2021, the online gambling landscape for US players is in the middle of some wide-reaching changes. Some state residents can now partake in casino games, sports betting, and of course online poker.
As one of the best real money skill gaming options, online poker is definitely worth considering.
So the big question is ”Can I play online poker legally in the United States?”
The short answer is no, but as always it’s not quite that cut and dried. It very much depends on where you live.
The reality is that four states in the country have a regulated poker industry while two more have passed legislation in the Senate to regulate the sport.
Those where online poker is legal are Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, while Virginia and Michigan have taken the initiative and are attempting to navigate the legislative process. Residents of those may be able to play soon if the decisions of regulatory bodies go the right way.
For the rest of the country the signs are positive. Industry experts expect that online gambling will be legal all over the US by 2030. That includes casino gaming and all the intricacies that surround that subject. Casino games have always been popular with gamblers, and with the rapid development of mobile apps there will be plenty of opportunities to play. In particular, pay by mobile casino games are likely to become more popular than ever.
Let’s focus on poker though, and take a brief look at each of the four states where poker is currently regulated:
The Four US States to Legalize Online Poker
1. New Jersey – Jersey is home to one of the largest gambling industries in the States. The Garden State authorities have been vying to regulate the industry for a long time and the results are apparent. New Jersey legalized online poker in 2013 and the state-regulated platforms include the Borgata Poker Network, WSOP/888 Poker Network, and PokerStars NJ.
2. Nevada – WSOP Nevada launched in September 2013 and is the largest poker operator in the state. The network is shared between WSOP and 888 New Jersey, and online bracelet events for the WSOP are available on the platform.
3. Pennsylvania – PokerStars PA launched in November 2019 as a standalone platform in the state. The network accepts players within the state borders and tables are not accessible to PokerStars NJ users.
4. Delaware – Players from the state can access 888 Poker, the only legal platform in Delaware. The network operates three platforms called Harrington Raceway, Dover Downs, and Delaware Park. Users can link with the WSOP Nevada and New Jersey servers. While the player pools are linked, users cannot access WSOP bracelet events.
Is PokerStars Legal in the US?
Americans can’t legally access the standard PokerStars platform from within the US, the dedicated state versions of PokerStars NJ and PA run on local servers and follow all regional legislation. The player pools of the main server aren’t connected to the regional servers, and both platforms operate independently.
It’s been a few decades since the original PokerStars platform was banned in the States along with Ultimate Bet/Absolute Poker. And although these platforms are available in most other parts of the world, their return to US soil is up for debate.
The US poker boom of the 2000s ushered a new era of online gambling into the states, urging the federal government to shut off access by introducing the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in 2006. PartyPoker, one of the largest operators in the world was forced to shut shop, while operators like PokerStars worked with the authorities overtime to come up with a solution.
However, most poker sites in the States operate out of a grey area, and most of them are quite popular too. But, signing up on an unregulated platform is a risky proposition since player safety isn’t always on the cards. Nonetheless, business is thriving and the illegal gambling industry is worth over a few billion dollars annually.