US Online Poker Legality FAQs

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Bonnie Evans | December 11, 2019 | Updated on: May 27th, 2022

US Online Poker Legality FAQs

We have compiled an online poker legality FAQ in the US guide for US players to better Online Poker Legality FAQunderstand the laws regarding gambling on poker online. Read on to find out more about legal online poker by reading the questions and answers with regards to legal online poker.

Learning about online poker legality can seem confusing, especially with all the different state laws around online gambling in the United States. Online poker in America can be quite a complex subject, resulting in many US gamblers believing that it’s illegal. This is a misconception as very few states have laws about online poker legality. It’s legal to play poker online in most US states and territories.

However, there’s only one state that specifically restricts real money poker online – Washington State. Even then, this law is two decades old and has not been enforced by the state. In fact, most laws related to gambling and online gambling are antiquated and don’t adequately address the issue at all.

Furthermore, confusion among American gamblers and the public come from a misinterpretation of existing laws, especially the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006. It’s regarded as the reason why online poker legality is questioned. But, in fact, it isn’t. What the UIGEA highlights is the fact that it’s illegal for banks to process deposits to online gambling sites.

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What is the Online Poker Legality Status in the US?

As mentioned above, playing online poker, as an American gambler, is completely legal especially on a federal level. However, on the state level, this gets a bit more complex. Some states, like Washington, have laws that prohibit online gambling. Players can even be prosecuted just for having online poker software on their computers. Other states with laws that put into question online poker legality are Louisiana and Utah

But, in these three states, there haven’t been any arrests and prosecutions for online poker. So, in short, online poker isn’t considered a major offence.

Furthermore, there are four states in which online poker legality is guaranteed and regulated. In Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania players can find regulated online poker sites.

What is the Difference Between Regulated and Unregulated Online Poker Markets?

US players reading up on online poker legality will come across these terms quite a bit. Let’s first take a look at what a regulated online poker or gambling market is.

Regulated Online Poker Market

A regulated casino market is one that’s established inside the USA in a state that permits online gambling. The casino site abides by the local gambling regulations and pays taxes to the local government. You’ll find regulated online poker markets where online poker legality is guaranteed. In states like Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, US gamblers will find regulated markets.

Unregulated Online Poker Market

This market is made up of sites based outside the US, mainly offshore in Central America, Gibraltar, or other locations. In terms of online poker legality, they don’t operate according to US gambling laws, don’t pay taxes to the American government, and violate the UIGEA by offering online poker to US gamblers.

What are the Pros and Cons of Regulated and Unregulated Online Poker?

Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of opting for local and offshore online poker sites.

Pros and Cons of Regulated Online Poker

Because they have to follow US gambling laws, players have protections which are guaranteed by the state. Also, this means that you are protected from being defrauded by the casino site. However, regulated markets offer smaller deposit bonuses because they have to pay taxes to their local governments. There are also fewer people playing because you’re restricted to your state, and there’s a smaller selection of games.

Pros and Cons of Unregulated Online Poker

There are larger deposit bonuses and promotions at offshore casino sites. You’ll also find a much bigger player pool because people from all over the world can join and play for real money. Finally, there’s a wider selection of games to choose from.

On the other hand, they don’t have to pay any taxes which means the US government is losing out on a great revenue source. Ultimately, you’re not protected from being defrauded by these sites.

Which States Restrict Online Poker?

States don’t necessarily restrict online poker but you’ll find that the four states with regulated online poker can’t accept players from outside their state. This is because of the laws around state-bound online poker sites.

Unregulated off-shore online poker markets usually don’t accept players from the four regulated markets mentioned. This is due to the legal online poker market already established there.

Online Poker Legality Conclusion

There are a lot of US casinos FAQs that are answered here on our site not only about online poker in the US. So, to sum it all up, online poker legality is completely guaranteed in the USA to you, the player. Players can choose if they want to play in a regulated market – at casinos based in the US. Or, they can opt for an unregulated market – the casino site is based offshore. The UIEGA only applies to banks processing deposits to casinos, especially those that are located offshore.

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