State Poker Laws - Gambling Laws in United States
Poker laws are confusing. Can you play online? Are home poker games allowed? If I say the word poker, will the FBI break down my door and arrest me?
It doesn’t help that most state laws haven’t changed in years to accommodate for the changes in technology.
At the same time, it doesn’t help that the laws change daily either, from one state to the next. One day it’s illegal to play poker online, but the next you could be multi-tabling SNGs like the UIGEA or Black Friday never happened.
What’s Legal & What’s Not in All 50 States
Researching your state’s gambling laws wouldn’t be so bad, if it weren’t for the lawyer speak, run on sentences and huge paragraphs. Oh, and did I mention that it’s boring?
But good news. We’ve already done the research for you. Each state in our list below links to a page where we break down and decipher that state’s gambling laws. We hope they clear up any confusion, and answer any questions you may have.
Alabama – They make our top 5 worst states for poker players. Punishments exist for both operators and players.
Alaska – Gambling is hit or miss overall. Live poker is ok, but few casinos exist. Your best option is home (social) poker games, so long as you follow these rules.
Arizona – You’ll find more than 20 casinos spreading poker games. You can play at home too. Online poker goes unmentioned in Arizona’s statutes.
Arkansas – Another state in our top 5 worst states list. Not a surprise given the region they’re located in (the Bible Belt).
California – A good state for poker players. Choose from over 100 poker rooms, or play from your own home. Experts suggest that California will be one of the next states to pass (legal) online poker legislation, too.
Colorado – Play live poker in a licensed casino, or from home.
Connecticut – Home to 2 well-known casinos. One is Foxwoods Casino, home of nearly 400 poker tables. But can you play online?
Delaware – The first state to legalize online gambling, and the 2nd to go launch online portals. They’re the only state that offers casino games (as of 1/2014).
District of Columbia – They legalized online poker, only to go back and repeal the law. Read to learn what options you do have living in our nation’s capital.
Florida – Home games, clubs and casinos are ok, but only if you play by the rules. Find out what they are here.
Georgia – Another top 5 worst state. You have no (legal) real money options here.
Hawaii – No form of regulated gaming exist. However, it is possible to play from home, or online, assuming you can find a way to deposit money.
Idaho – Poker is considered a game of chance. So it should come as no surprise that no casino poker exists. But are poker players dead in the water? Read our page to find out.
Illinois – Poker is a grey area. You’ll find casino poker, but hosting or playing in a home (social) game is not recommended.
Indiana – Online and home poker games appear to be illegal. You can find refuge in a casino poker game, however.
Iowa – Play a couple hands from home, or in a licensed casino. We’re not sure about online poker though. But they don’t seem too sure, either.
Kansas – Despite earning more than $10 million each year from their 8+ casinos, Kansas appears to have no interest in online gaming. Playing poker from home is illegal, too.
Kentucky – A state known for their 100+ years of horse racing – not for their poker games. Home games appear to be ok, but live and online poker are more/less a grey area.
Louisiana – Poker is ok in a licensed casino or riverboat, or in your home, so long as you follow the rules. Online poker is questionable.
Maine – Their stance on internet poker isn’t clear. But home games are ok, as are poker games in one of Maine’s 2 casinos.
Maryland – Maryland filed charges against Bodog founder, Calvin Ayre. Need we say more?
Massachusetts – You can play poker at one of their licensed casinos. It’s possible to play online poker, but it’s unclear whether or not it’s ‘illegal.’
Michigan – Online poker is illegal. However, home poker games are fine.
Minnesota – Home and casino poker games are legal.
Mississippi – Live poker is acceptable in licensed casinos, however, online and home poker games are off limits.
Missouri – Online poker isn’t illegal, but the state shows no interest in regulating it. Other than that, you can play poker in licensed casinos or from your home, so long as you follow these rules.
Montana – Online gambling is illegal. However, you can play from home or in one of 140+ casinos in the state.
Nebraska – The worst state for poker players. No casinos exist, and both home and online poker is illegal.
Nevada – The second state to legalize online poker, and the first state to launch a real money poker site. Home to more live casinos than you’ll ever visit.
New Hampshire – The laws for online and home poker games are unclear. But there are several licensed casinos that offer live poker games.
New Jersey – They’re the 3rd state to legalize and launch real money online poker. They’re the state to watch with their local casino network, 6+ online rooms, and traffic.
New Mexico – Residents can play poker in live casinos. However, home poker games appear to be illegal, and the state also appears to be confused as to what the UIGEA is or means.
New York – It is possible to play live if you’re willing to travel. Online poker is illegal though.
North Carolina – Online and home poker games appear to be illegal. There is one (live) casino that offers poker, though.
North Dakota – Online poker is illegal. Live poker is ok, as well as hosting/playing in home poker games.
Ohio – No online poker laws exist. Home poker games are ok, and there has been new casinos built in the last few years, and the state plans to add more.
Oklahoma – Live poker is spread in casinos. Online poker is assumed to be illegal though, as are home or ‘social’ poker games.
Oregon – Regulation exists for operators. It is still possible to play online though. Home games, clubs and casinos all exist (legally), too.
Pennsylvania – An average state. Live poker exists, but online poker and home poker games are unclear, thus forcing us to assume that they’re most likely illegal.
Rhode Island – Online and home poker games are illegal.
South Carolina – No brick and mortar casinos exist, and their laws say little, if anything, about online poker or home games.
South Dakota – The only laws for online gambling apply to operators. Home poker games appear to be illegal, but there are more than 50 casinos here, some of which offer live poker.
Tennessee – Tennessee poker players have no options for poker, other than to travel to other states/casinos.
Texas – Few casinos exist, but there has been recent attempts to make home poker games legal. Online poker appears to be illegal.
Utah – This state shares the worst-state-for-poker-players award with Nebraska. You will have to make the drive to Nevada if you want to play poker, live or online.
Vermont – We interpret their laws to cover all forms of gambling in the state, making them illegal. Read this page to see what we mean.
Virginia- Online poker appears to be illegal. However, US poker sites (offshore) still accept players. Home games are ok, too.
Washington – It is a felony to play online poker here. Home poker games are fine, as are games held at licensed casinos.
West Virginia – Online and home poker games appear to be illegal. However, there are poker games running in local casinos.
Wisconsin – Poker players could live in a better state. Home and online poker games appear to be illegal, leaving only a few live casinos to play in. Your alternative is to travel to another state.
Wyoming – Online poker appears to be illegal, and they show no signs of interest in regulating it in the future. However, home poker games are ok, as are games held in licensed, tribal casinos in the state.
How Online Gambling Regulation Works in the United States
Since the rules change quickly, and often, the best thing you can do is understand how regulation works in the US, and then stay up to date on your state’s progress.
Regulation, or lack thereof, is determined on a state-by-state basis. The federal government decided to let each state make their own laws shortly after Black Friday. This includes the option of opting in or out, should online gambling ever become legal on a federal level.
Following that we’ve seen several states attempt to legalize online poker (or gambling as a whole). Some states, such as California, are still working on it. Others, like Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware, have already made it legal and launched real money portals.
However, each state is unique in their laws, and how they enforce them.
For example, Delaware is the only state thus far that has legalized (and launched) more than just poker. You can play other casino games, too.
Online poker is legal within New Jersey and Nevada state lines. But one enforces this using IP addresses, while the latter uses cell phone numbers and towers.
There are similarities, too. For example, each state will have a licensors, treasurers, enforcers, and so forth. Each state has structure.
But even then, each state will refer to these individual groups using different terms. Their roles will be different. What they can and cannot do will be different.
The point? You need to stay up to date on what’s legal (and what’s not) in your own state.