Legal Gambling in Maryland

Maryland Legal Poker LawsPoker players have very little hope in Maryland. While online gambling isn't explicitly mentioned in their laws, you can get a feel of their stance from the charges they filed against Bodog founder Calvin Ayre, as well as the fact that most US accepting sites prohibit Maryland residents from signing up.

But are there any legal poker options for Maryland residents? What about loopholes? Read on to find out.

Playing Poker Legally in Maryland

Is Online Poker Legal in Maryland?

There are no laws that specifically outlaw online poker. However, there are statutes that pretty much ban everything under the gambling umbrella.

§ 12-102. Betting, wagering, gambling, etc.

(a) Prohibited.- A person may not:
(1) bet, wager, or gamble;

That answers our question, doesn't it?

Furthermore, poker is considered a game of chance in Maryland because of the random shuffle and placement of cards.

What About Home Poker Games?

Maryland isn't friendly to home poker games either. They have nothing in their laws that mention social games.

In fact, there are a number of statutes that would lead us to believe that home games are illegal, in addition to the one mentioned above.

§ 12-104. Gaming device, or building, vessel, or place for gambling.

(a) Prohibited.- A person may not:

(1) keep a gaming device, or all or a part of a building, vessel, or place, on land or water within the State for the purpose of gambling;
(2) own, rent, or occupy all or a part of a building, vessel, or place and knowingly allow a gaming device to be kept in the building, vessel, or place;
(3) lease or rent all or a part of a building, vessel, or place to be used for the purpose of gambling;
(4) deal at a gaming device or in a building, vessel, or place for gambling;
(5) manage a gaming device or a building, vessel, or place for gambling; or

This covers a number of things like:

  • Not being able to own a card table, deck of cards, chips, chairs or timing devices.
  • Not being able to deal poker (and someone has to).
  • Running a home poker game.
  • Participating in said poker game because of knowing it's not allowed.

This all said, a bill was introduced that would relax the laws to allow social gambling. However, H.B. 486 failed in early April, 2013.

Do Casinos in Maryland Offer Legal Poker?

Maryland opened it's first casino in March 2013. The Hollywood Perryville Casino offers 3 and 4-card poker, blackjack and roulette casino table games, as well as omaha, 7-card stud and Texas holdem poker games.

Maryland Poker FAQs

We receive a lot of questions about state poker laws and the gambling laws in Maryland. We thought we'd post our answers here.

Will online poker be regulated and legal in Maryland?

That's an amusing thought.

Seriously, though, the likelihood that Maryland would regulate online gambling is slim. The exception is if neighbors like New Jersey and Delaware can convince the state of its potential upsides.

Other than that, their history shows us that they have no interest in online gambling.

Regulated Real Money Poker in Maryland - A Timeline of Events

Here's a short, but very telling timeline of events regarding Maryland and online poker regulation. We'll post updates here as they happen.

April 2012 / Maryland to Expand Their Lottery - Maryland approved for $500,000 to start up the online version of the state lottery.

February 2012 / Maryland Brings Criminal Charges to Calvin Ayre - Calvin Arye was charged with running an illegal sports gambling site and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

February 2013 - An overwhelming 46-0 vote came in against the Senate Bill 272 during the Budget and Taxation Committee which would make it illegal for Maryland state to operate an online lottery.

Is there an online poker room that accepts players from Maryland?

Because of Maryland's stance on unregulated gambling, you'll find that there are few sites that are willing to accept US customers from Maryland. It wouldn't shock us if that was because they wanted to prevent episodes like the one mentioned above with Calvin Ayre.

However, there are a couple of sites willing to accept Maryland residents. These include BetOnline and Sportsbook Poker.

What other forms of regulated gambling is offered in Maryland?

Maryland offers horse racing, off-track betting and a state lottery. They also recently opened up the Hollywood Casino.

Where can I read more about Maryland poker laws?

You can read more about Maryland's gambling laws at the following sites:

Maryland Poker Facts

Here are some interesting facts about poker and gambling in Maryland.

  • 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event winner Greg Merson is from Laurel, Maryland. He won two $10k events during the 2012 WSOP, and over $8 million in winnings.
  • You are able to sue to recover money lost during illegal gambling.

 § 12-110. Recovery of gambling loss.

(a) In general.- A person who loses money at a gaming device that is prohibited by this subtitle, Subtitle 2 of this title, or Title 13 of this article:
(1) may recover the money as if it were a common debt; and
(2) is a competent witness to prove the loss.

  • Jai Ali is a sport that involves bouncing a ball of a walled space. It's a game I've never heard of, but apparently it's illegal to place bets on in Maryland.

(b) Prohibited.- A person may not conduct or operate with pari-mutuel betting, or with any similar form of betting, wagering, or gambling:
the game, contest, or event commonly known as "jai alai"

  • Pool tables are not considered gaming devices.

(d) Gaming device.-
(1) "Gaming device" means:
(i) a gaming table, except a billiard table, at which a game of chance is played for money or any other thing or consideration of value; or
(ii) a game or device at which money or any other thing or consideration of value is bet, wagered, or gambled.
(2) "Gaming device " includes a paddle wheel, wheel of fortune, chance book, and bingo.

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