Poker Money: Where is Poker Legal in the US? Which States Can You Play Online Poker In?

Home » Poker Money: Where is Poker Legal in the US? Which States Can You Play Online Poker In?

Are you ready to play poker in the United States? If so, you might be wondering where you can legally enjoy your favorite card game. PokerNews is here to provide you with a comprehensive guide to the legal landscape of poker across the US, including where you can play online poker.

Is Online Poker Legal in the US in 2023?

As of early 2023, online poker is indeed legal in the United States, but with some important caveats. Only six states have legalized online poker, and they are Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Michigan. The ability to play online poker in the US varies from state to state due to a combination of factors, including state laws, gaming interests, and political considerations.

In the following sections, we’ll delve deeper into the current state of online poker in the US, examine the status of live poker, explore upcoming poker legislation, and even touch on a pivotal event known as Black Friday that forever changed the online poker landscape.

Is Live Poker Legal in the US in 2023?

Live poker is also legal in the United States in 2023, but like online poker, its legality varies from state to state. States such as Hawaii, Utah, and Wyoming have stringent restrictions on all forms of gambling, including poker, due to factors like religious and political influences.

Conversely, states like Wisconsin, California, and Florida allow poker to be offered through compacts between state and tribal gaming interests. States like Nevada, New Jersey, and Louisiana have a long history of embracing poker, both live and online.

In most cases, the ability to offer live poker is closely tied to a venue’s gaming license. If a location can offer table games, it usually has the option to provide live poker games as well.

Upcoming and Future Poker Legislation in the US

Poker legislation in the United States is always a dynamic and evolving topic. Legislative efforts often piggyback on the momentum of other forms of gambling, like sports betting. For instance, when a state considers legalizing online sports betting, gaming operators often push to include other games like poker in the legislation.

While live poker legislation is trickier, politicians occasionally introduce bills that support live poker efforts. A recent example is a bill introduced by Texas lawmaker Gene Wu aimed at addressing a legal loophole in the state.

What Was Black Friday in Poker?

If you’re a poker enthusiast, you’ve likely heard of Black Friday, a pivotal event that dramatically altered the online poker landscape in the United States. Black Friday refers to April 15, 2011, when the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) took drastic action against major online poker operators. On that fateful day, players logging into sites like PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and the Cereus Network (UltimateBet & Absolute Poker) were met with unexpected messages from the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, effectively shutting down these sites.

Black Friday occurred because the US government sought to enforce the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). The DOJ not only shut down access to the sites but also charged various individuals with crimes, including bank fraud, related to online gambling transactions.

This event had several implications for the poker industry:

  1. Full Tilt Poker and the Cereus Network ultimately went under, as they failed to segregate player funds, leaving players unable to access their money.
  2. PokerStars, which had segregated funds, paid out players and later acquired Full Tilt Poker, making players whole again.
  3. Black Friday marked the end of the online poker boom in the US, with the once-thriving market disappearing overnight.
  4. It paved the way for legal and regulated online poker options at the state level, with each state responsible for its own legislation.
  5. Prior to Black Friday, tens of millions of Americans played online poker. However, post-Black Friday, only a fraction can play in regulated markets.
  6. Black Friday tarnished poker’s reputation, with prosecutors likening the operators to a “Ponzi Scheme,” casting a negative light on the game.

The Complete History of Poker Legality and Legislation in the US (Timeline)

The history of online poker in the United States is a fascinating journey that stretches back decades. Here’s a brief timeline highlighting key milestones:

  • 1998: Planet Poker becomes the first online poker site offering real money games.
  • 2001: PartyPoker launches, becoming a dominant force in online poker until 2006 when it exits the US market.
  • 2001: PokerStars debuts and gains popularity, especially after Chris Moneymaker’s WSOP win in 2003.
  • 2002: 888poker is founded, and in 2004, Full Tilt Poker enters the market.
  • 2006: The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) is enacted, targeting online gambling operators’ financial transactions.
  • 2011: Black Friday occurs, shutting down major online poker sites and leading to a seismic shift in the industry.
  • 2013: Nevada and Delaware become the first states to offer legal online poker.
  • 2017: Pennsylvania joins the list of states with legal online poker.
  • 2019: West Virginia and Michigan pass legislation for online poker, with Michigan launching in 2021.
  • 2021: The Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) allows Michigan to join Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey in a combined player pool.

Which US States Can You Play Poker In During 2023?

As of 2023, only six states in the US offer legalized and regulated online poker. Here’s a state-by-state overview of the current status of online poker:

  • Alabama: Online poker is not legal in Alabama, and there’s no pending legislation.
  • Alaska: Online poker is not legal in Alaska, and there’s no immediate indication of change.
  • Arkansas: Live poker is limited to racinos, while online poker is illegal.
  • California: While live poker is legal, online poker remains unregulated.
  • Colorado: Live poker is available, but online poker lacks regulation.
  • Connecticut: Online poker is legal but awaits implementation.
  • Delaware: Both live and online poker are legal and regulated.
  • Florida: Live poker thrives, but online poker remains unregulated.
  • Georgia: No legal poker, online or live, is available in Georgia.
  • Hawaii: Gambling, including poker, is strictly prohibited in Hawaii.
  • Idaho: Poker, both online and live, is illegal in Idaho.
  • Illinois: Live poker is legal, but online poker awaits regulation.
  • Indiana: Live poker is legal, but online poker is not currently regulated.
  • Iowa: Live poker is popular, but online poker is awaiting regulation.
  • Kansas: Online poker is not legal, and there’s little legislative momentum.
  • Kentucky: Online poker legislation is pending but faces challenges.
  • Louisiana: Live poker thrives, and online poker could follow.
  • Maine: Online poker lacks regulation, while live poker is limited.
  • Maryland: While live poker is legal, online poker remains unregulated.
  • Massachusetts: Online poker is not yet regulated but could be in the future.
  • Michigan:

Is Poker Legal in Michigan?
Michigan offers a bountiful selection of live poker, online poker, and was admitted to the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), which allows Michigan players to compete in a combined pool with players from New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware. Ever since they dealt their first hand of online poker back on January 29, 2021, Michigan has been one of the hottest online poker markets in the United States.

Live poker thrives in Michigan, thanks to its numerous tribal and commercial casinos. Whether you’re in Detroit, Mount Pleasant, or any other city in the Wolverine State, you’re likely to find a poker room nearby. Michigan’s poker scene has been on the rise for several years, and with the advent of online poker, the state has quickly become a major player in the industry.

Read More About Poker Legality in Michigan

Is Poker Legal in Minnesota?
Minnesota is home to many tribal casinos, and several of them offer poker games. You can enjoy a variety of poker formats, including Texas Hold’em and Omaha, at these venues. The state also hosts charitable poker events that provide players with opportunities to test their skills while supporting good causes.

Regarding online poker, there haven’t been any significant legislative developments to legalize and regulate it in Minnesota. The state has focused more on its brick-and-mortar casino industry and charitable gambling activities. However, with neighboring states like Michigan and Iowa embracing online poker, Minnesota could explore this avenue in the future.

Read More About Poker Legality in Minnesota

Is Poker Legal in Mississippi?
Mississippi is known for its vibrant casino industry, with several casinos spread across the state. These casinos offer a range of poker games, making Mississippi a destination for poker enthusiasts. Popular poker variants like Texas Hold’em and Omaha can be enjoyed at various casinos in the state.

Despite its thriving live poker scene, Mississippi has yet to make significant moves toward regulating online poker. The state’s focus has mainly been on traditional casino gambling and sports betting. Online poker enthusiasts in Mississippi often turn to licensed offshore platforms to satisfy their poker cravings.

Read More About Poker Legality in Mississippi

Is Poker Legal in Missouri?
Missouri offers a mix of gambling options, with riverboat casinos being a prominent feature of its gaming landscape. These riverboat casinos often feature poker rooms, allowing residents and visitors to enjoy live poker games. Texas Hold’em and Omaha are among the popular variants offered at these venues.

When it comes to online poker, Missouri has not taken steps to legalize and regulate the activity within its borders. The state’s gambling regulations have primarily focused on land-based casinos and lottery games. Online poker players in Missouri frequently turn to offshore poker sites to play their favorite games.

Read More About Poker Legality in Missouri

Is Poker Legal in Montana?
Montana is unique in that it allows limited forms of poker and gambling. Home games and social poker games are permitted as long as certain conditions are met, such as not charging a fee to play. The state also offers licensed card rooms, taverns, and casinos where you can play live poker.

Online poker, however, remains unregulated in Montana. The state has not pursued online gambling legislation, and there are no licensed online poker operators based in Montana. Players interested in online poker typically access offshore platforms to participate in real-money games.

Read More About Poker Legality in Montana

Is Poker Legal in Nebraska?
Nebraska has taken a conservative approach to gambling, with limited options available. The state’s laws do not specifically address poker, and home games are permitted as long as they meet certain criteria, such as not charging a fee to play. Nebraska does not have a thriving live poker scene compared to some other states.

Regarding online poker, Nebraska has not taken steps to regulate or license online poker sites. The state’s gambling focus has primarily been on charitable gaming and lottery offerings. Online poker enthusiasts in Nebraska often resort to offshore platforms to access poker games.

Read More About Poker Legality in Nebraska

Is Poker Legal in Nevada?
Nevada is synonymous with poker and gambling. It’s home to the gambling mecca of Las Vegas, where you can find numerous iconic poker rooms and world-famous tournaments. Nevada was the first state to legalize and regulate online poker, launching its online poker industry in 2013.

Online poker in Nevada is fully legal and regulated, allowing players to enjoy real-money games on licensed platforms. Players in Nevada can compete with others from Delaware and New Jersey through the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), creating a larger player pool and more exciting poker action.

Read More About Poker Legality in Nevada

Is Poker Legal in New Hampshire?
New Hampshire’s gambling landscape is relatively conservative, with limited options for poker enthusiasts. The state does allow charitable poker games and poker tournaments, but there are no commercial casinos in New Hampshire.

Online poker remains unregulated in New Hampshire. The state has not pursued online gambling legislation, and there are no licensed online poker operators based in New Hampshire. Players interested in online poker typically access offshore platforms to enjoy poker games.

Read More About Poker Legality in New Hampshire

Is Poker Legal in New Jersey?
New Jersey is a major player in the world of online poker. The state legalized online poker in 2013 and has a thriving online poker industry. Numerous licensed online poker operators offer real-money games to players in New Jersey, and the state also participates in the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), allowing its players to compete with those from other states.

New Jersey has a strong live poker presence as well, with poker rooms in Atlantic City casinos and other venues across the state. The Garden State is known for its poker tournaments and events, making it a top destination for poker enthusiasts.

Read More About Poker Legality in New Jersey

Is Poker Legal in New Mexico?
New Mexico offers various forms of gambling, including tribal casinos and racinos. Some of these establishments feature poker rooms, allowing players to enjoy live poker games. Texas Hold’em and Omaha are among the popular poker variants available at these venues.

Online poker is not regulated in New Mexico. The state has focused on its existing land-based gambling options and has not pursued online poker legislation. Players interested in online poker often turn to offshore poker sites to play their favorite games.

Read More About Poker Legality in New Mexico

Is Poker Legal in New York?
New York is home to several commercial casinos and tribal casinos that offer live poker games. These poker rooms host a variety of poker variants, and New York has a growing live poker scene. The state has been considering online poker legislation for several years but has not yet passed a bill to regulate the activity.

Online poker remains unregulated in New York, with no licensed online poker operators based in the state. Players interested in online poker typically access offshore platforms to participate in real-money games while awaiting potential developments in state legislation.

Read More About Poker Legality in New York

Is Poker Legal in North Carolina?
North Carolina has a limited gambling landscape, with no commercial casinos in the state. While there are tribal casinos, they do not feature poker rooms. Home games and social poker games are allowed under certain conditions, such as not charging a fee to play.

Online poker is not regulated in North Carolina. The state’s focus has primarily been on its lottery and charitable gambling offerings. Players interested in online poker often resort to offshore platforms to access real-money games.

Is Poker Legal in North Dakota?
North Dakota has limited gambling options, and there are no commercial casinos in the state. While charitable poker games are allowed, there is no significant live poker scene. Home games and social poker games are permitted as long as certain conditions, such as not charging a fee to play, are met.

Online poker remains unregulated in North Dakota. The state has not taken steps to legalize or license online poker operators. Players interested in online poker typically access offshore platforms to participate in real-money games.

Read More About Poker Legality in North Dakota

Is Poker Legal in Ohio?
Ohio has a burgeoning casino industry with commercial casinos that often feature poker rooms. Players in Ohio can enjoy various poker variants, including Texas Hold’em and Omaha, at these venues. The state has considered online poker legislation but has not yet regulated the activity.

Online poker is not currently regulated in Ohio. While there have been discussions about online gambling, including poker, the state has not passed any laws to legalize or license online poker operators. Players interested in online poker often turn to offshore platforms to play.

Read More About Poker Legality in Ohio

Is Poker Legal in Oklahoma?
Oklahoma is known for its tribal casinos, and many of them offer live poker games. You can find poker rooms across the state, hosting popular variants like Texas Hold’em and Omaha. While Oklahoma has considered online gambling, including poker, it has not yet regulated the activity.

Online poker remains unregulated in Oklahoma. The state’s gambling regulations have primarily focused on its tribal casino industry. Players interested in online poker often access offshore poker sites to enjoy real-money games.

Read More About Poker Legality in Oklahoma

Is Poker Legal in Oregon?
Oregon offers various forms of gambling, including tribal casinos that feature poker rooms. Players can enjoy live poker games, including Texas Hold’em and Omaha, at these venues. While Oregon has a limited gambling scene compared to some states, it does provide poker enthusiasts with options.

Online poker is not currently regulated in Oregon. The state has not pursued online poker legislation, and there are no licensed online poker operators based in Oregon. Players interested in online poker typically turn to offshore platforms to play.

Read More About Poker Legality in Oregon

Is Poker Legal in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania has a thriving gambling industry, including several commercial casinos. Many of these casinos have poker rooms that offer a variety of poker games. In 2017, Pennsylvania legalized online poker, and the state has since become a prominent online poker market. Licensed online poker operators provide real-money games to players in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania also participates in the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), allowing its players to compete with those from other states. The combination of live and online poker options makes Pennsylvania a great destination for poker enthusiasts.

Read More About Poker Legality in Pennsylvania

Is Poker Legal in Rhode Island?
Rhode Island has a limited gambling landscape, with two commercial casinos in the state. While these casinos do not have dedicated poker rooms, they offer other forms of gambling. Rhode Island has not pursued online poker legislation, and online poker remains unregulated in the state.

Players interested in online poker typically access offshore platforms to participate in real-money games. Rhode Island’s gambling focus has primarily been on its lottery and sports betting offerings.

Read More About Poker Legality in Rhode Island

Is Poker Legal in South Carolina?
South Carolina has strict gambling laws, and there are no commercial casinos in the state. Home games and social poker games are generally considered illegal under state law. The state has not pursued online poker legislation, and online poker remains unregulated in South Carolina.

Players interested in online poker often resort to offshore platforms to access real-money games, though they should be aware of the potential legal risks associated with this.

Is Poker Legal in South Dakota?
South Dakota offers a range of gambling options, including commercial casinos with poker rooms. Players can enjoy live poker games, including Texas Hold’em and Omaha, at these venues. While South Dakota has considered online gambling, it has not yet regulated online poker.

Online poker remains unregulated in South Dakota. Players interested in online poker often access offshore poker sites to enjoy real-money games. The state has primarily focused on its land-based gambling industry.

Read More About Poker Legality in South Dakota

Is Poker Legal in Tennessee?
Tennessee has strict gambling laws, and there are no commercial casinos in the state. Home games and social poker games are generally considered illegal under state law. The state has not pursued online poker legislation, and online poker remains unregulated in Tennessee.

Players interested in online poker often resort to offshore platforms to access real-money games, though they should be aware of the potential legal risks associated with this.

Is Poker Legal in Texas?
Texas has a thriving live poker scene, with numerous card rooms and poker clubs spread across the state. Players can enjoy various poker variants, including Texas Hold’em and Omaha, at these venues. However, Texas has not regulated online poker.

Online poker remains unregulated in Texas. Despite several legislative attempts, the state has not passed laws to legalize and license online poker operators. Players interested in online poker often access offshore platforms to enjoy real-money games.

Read More About Poker Legality in Texas

Is Poker Legal in Utah?
Utah has some of the strictest anti-gambling laws in the United States. All forms of gambling, including poker, are prohibited in the state. Home games and social poker games are generally considered illegal under state law. There are no commercial casinos in Utah, and the state has not pursued online poker legislation.

Utah’s strong anti-gambling stance means that there are no legal options for poker enthusiasts in the state, whether live or online.

Is Poker Legal in Vermont?
Vermont has limited gambling options, and there are no commercial casinos in the state. Home games and social poker games are generally allowed as long as certain conditions, such as not charging a fee to play, are met. Vermont has not pursued online poker legislation, and online poker remains unregulated in the state.

Players interested in online poker often resort to offshore platforms to access real-money games, though they should be aware of the potential legal risks associated with this.

Is Poker Legal in Virginia?
Virginia has recently embraced gambling expansion, including the legalization of commercial casinos. These casinos may offer live poker games in the future. However, as of the last update in September 2021, online poker had not been regulated in Virginia.

Online poker enthusiasts in Virginia often accessed licensed offshore platforms to participate in real-money games. Please check for any updates in Virginia’s gambling laws and regulations for the most current information.

Is Poker Legal in Washington?
Washington has some of the strictest online gambling laws in the United States. While home games and social poker games are generally allowed as long as certain conditions are met, online poker is explicitly prohibited. The state has not regulated or licensed online poker operators.

Players interested in online poker should be cautious when considering offshore platforms, as Washington enforces its online gambling laws rigorously.

Is Poker Legal in West Virginia?
West Virginia has legalized online poker, making it one of the few states to do so. The state launched its online poker industry in 2019, and licensed operators provide real-money games to players within West Virginia. West Virginia also participates in the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), allowing its players to compete with those from other states.

In addition to online poker, West Virginia has a growing live

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