Which USA States have legal online poker?

Which USA States have legal online poker?

Edited by Jude Goodwin © Great Bridge Links October 2023

Poker is a game that continues to enjoy widespread popularity, with it arguably experiencing a level of enjoyment across the US unlike any other. However, with the confusion and complexity of the laws that are in place across the North American country, it can be hard to know where it is legal to play online.

According to experts at Legaluspokersites.com, there is no need to be as confused as many are, as the rules can be viewed in simpler terms. They clarify that online poker is expressly illegal in Washington State, where it is a criminal offense to engage in such activities. In other states, the regulations vary, leaving the legal landscape rather ambiguous.

Let’s talk about Washington State

In Washington State, participating in online poker is explicitly illegal and is classified as a felony. Washington is unique among U.S. states in its stringent approach to online gambling, including poker.

If you attempt to play online poker on a site like PokerStars while located in Washington State, several things could happen:

  1. Access Denied: Major reputable online poker sites, like PokerStars, typically use geolocation technology to prevent users from accessing their services from locations where online poker is illegal. Therefore, you would likely be blocked from accessing the site.
  2. Legal Consequences: If you somehow bypass these restrictions (for example, by using VPNs, which is also against the terms of service of most poker sites), you could be subject to legal action. This includes potential criminal charges under Washington State law.
  3. Account Closure and Loss of Funds: Online poker sites have terms of service that include complying with local laws. If you violate these terms by playing from Washington State, your account could be suspended or closed, and you could forfeit any funds in your account.

It is advisable to respect the local laws and avoid participating in online poker while located in jurisdictions where it is prohibited, such as Washington State.

Six states have legalized online poker

The landscape for online poker in the US was significantly influenced by a 2018 Supreme Court decision, which allowed states more autonomy in regulating their own gambling activities. This decision primarily impacted sports betting but also indirectly influenced discussions around online poker. As a result, six states have legalized online poker at different times, with Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and West Virginia establishing legal frameworks.

Nevada was the first to legalize online poker – of course!

Perhaps unsurprisingly given its status as the gambling capital of the world with the city of Las Vegas situated there, Nevada was the first to open the floodgates and introduce legal online poker in the US. The state managed to legalize it in February 2013 after spending over a year trying to draft regulations that could be followed.

As a result of being a pioneer in the industry, Nevada saw an influx of online sites being created and made available to residents and visitors to the area. Las Vegas is known for being a hugely popular tourist destination because of its affinity with gambling and casino establishments. While iGaming is starting to boom across the US in recent years, as is the game of bridge, many still find that Sin City is the only place in America (or even in the world) to get an authentic experience.

Other states quickly followed Nevada

2013 was a huge year for the online poker industry across America, with other states quickly following in the footsteps of Nevada.

Delaware and New Jersey were quick to legalize online poker. Delaware capitalized on the Department of Justice’s 2011 interpretation of the 1961 Wire Act, which opened the door for states to legalize online poker and casino games.

After Delaware, New Jersey entered the scene and joined the party shortly after. The Garden State, though, were well ahead of everyone else in terms of legalizing online gambling. They passed a bill back in 2011, however this was vetoed. It was not until February 2013 that things started to move forward, with the first online poker sites going live in November of that year. Since then, there have been numerous developments that have encouraged the growth of online poker in the state.

Pennsylvania regulated online poker in 2017 after several attempts, but it took even longer before players could enjoy the activity as sites did not begin to go live until the end of 2019 and early 2020. West Virginia and Michigan also regulated the activity in 2019, while Connecticut were the latest to welcome online poker in 2021.

Could we see online poker become legalized in other states?

There are numerous states contemplating the legalization of online poker, driven by potential economic benefits such as increased tax revenue and job creation. States like New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Kentucky have been active in discussions about legalizing the activity. The future of online poker in these states looks promising, although specific timelines for legalization remain uncertain.

Poker remains an extremely popular pastime across the US. With the potential economic benefits and the changing legal landscape, it is likely that more states will consider legalizing online poker in the near