At the moment, there are only three American states that have legalized online poker: New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware. Even though the other main states are making attempts to regulate it, the law is still ambiguous.
US states to legalize online poker
Is it legal to play online poker in the US?
First off, just before placing various bets on your favourite team or risking it all by playing poker, it is extremely important knowing which law applies to which state. The gambling legislation America is dealing with is a touch and go situation.
New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware are the exceptions to the rule. They have made an effort to clarify this aspect once and for all and legalized online poker in 2013. Since then, others did try to give it a shot and passed various bills in the Senate, but nothing has changed thus far.
What about your state?
Regardless of which state you’re living in, you are most definitely asking yourself the same questions any poker player would:
- is it legal to play online poker and if so, can you play with real money?
- is it safe to withdraw your funds?
- on the other hand, if you, by simply playing, get to break the law, what penalties would you risk on facing?
The table below will give you a clue of the current gambling controversy that the American states are coping with.
|State||Standpoint: Online Poker|
|California||Still not regulated, but the future looks brighter than we imagine. Here, the number of poker players is higher than anywhere else in America, so online poker will be one of the first betting categories to be validated as being legal.|
|Delaware||Delaware has been taken a shot in the dark right after Nevada, legalizing all things gambling: casino games, especially. Bear in mind though that Delaware doesn’t allow online sports betting – this is an activity outlawed across the entire country.|
|Illinois||In spite of the fact that nobody faced any charges by now due to any online poker activity, nothing is very clear. It’s difficult to say how will things stack up in the near future, in Illinois. The last effort was made back in early 2012, when Senator John Cullerton filed a proposal to try legalizing online gambling, but the lack of support has put an end to that endeavour.|
|Iowa||This is just another case of grey area: Iowa has adopted the “legal-no legal” position. No matter how hard do poker players want to play it online, gambling is far from being a matter of legitimate activity.|
|Kansas||Here you can find yourself in a very grey, obscure area. As of 2015, there are no laws that keep you from playing online poker, but still there isn’t any stipulation concerning what you can and what you can’t do.|
|Missouri||This state is against gambling, although officially there is no law that stipulates such a fact.|
|Montana||By now, there hasn’t been any official statement made on whether this state will legalize it or not. At the moment, it is forbidden to engage in any games that are managed through any kind of technological communication channels (such as the internet). However, it is legal for players to play live poker.|
|Nebraska||Nebraska’s legislators haven’t proved themselves worthy of being considered very open-minded. Playing online could be risky, despite the fact that it looks unlikely for players to get prosecuted.|
|Nevada||Legalized online poker has first seen the light of day in Nevada. Back then, in February 2013, Brian Sandoval, a former chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission said that this bill is critical to the state’s economy and “ensures that we will continue to be the gold standard for gaming regulation”.|
|North Carolina||In this state, poker is not considered part of any betting activity. Nonetheless, uncertainty prevails. The law hasn’t said exactly what’s legal and what’s not, but legislators are fighting against gambling websites, day and night.|
|Pennsylvania||This state has been making huge efforts to show clearly its point of view regarding online poker. Things look pretty optimistic since they have already passed on a bill that’s possible to be adopted by the end of 2015. The major steps they have taken up to now to legalize gambling in general promise to bring more than $130 million per annum, in tax revenues.|
|Texas||Online poker is not regulated in Texas. Actually, no other forms of betting are legal in this state. By the look of it, the state is strongly holding back from legalizing betting activities.|
How’s the gambling industry holding on today?
It is important to specify that, in America, there is no federal law that keeps citizens from playing online. The law has no references of the actual betting activities taken place on the poker websites operating from within the US. First and foremost, it addresses the banking sector. Briefly, this means that:
- Americans cannot operate online poker games (these look-alike businesses are 100% illicit);
- the US Department of Justice has seized Full Tilt poker and people did receive their money back, but gambling on the internet is similar to playing with fire;
- there are quite a lot of betting websites based offshore that welcome American players.
How does the future look like?
The big economic boost that legalizing online gambling might bring to each state is a powerful reason to believe that, in a couple of years, other states will schlep along. For now, it’s been said that there are a few potential candidates to the throne:
- Iowa (studies have shown that online poker would contribute to the economy with $13 million in tax revenue; here, it might get regulated in 2016-2017);
- California (as we’ve stated above, California is home to thousands of poker players. That is why the likes of Daniel Negreanu and Jason Somerville are trying hard to make this thing happen);
The mere fact that the gambling legislation doesn’t have a crystal clear position yet can make one think that one day, it will become a legal activity. Not many states are making huge efforts to officially ban it. All the new initiatives, bills being passed and proposal being made, work as powerful incentives that lead us to assume that there are other American states getting ready to join New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada in their audacious movement.