Is Poker Legal In the U.S. - Is It Legal For Americans To Play Poker Online

Those who want to know whether or not online poker is legal for USA players have found the right page as this article will set you straight on the current state of affairs when it comes to the legal status of the game. Plus, there will be a spot on this page where players can find the latest news in the process to actually regulate the game which would therefore make it 100% legal for Americans.

This page aims not to bore you with a bunch of legal jargon but to actually demonstrate the real-world function of the online poker bills in place which come from larger laws about online gambling. We want you to walk away from this page with a better understanding of not just the laws but also their impact.

Latest News - New Jersey Newest State To Approve Online Gambling Regulation

In late February, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed off on a bill that would allow for online gambling to be regulated within the state. The Garden State is now part of a trio of states that have also signed off in favor of regulating the industry with the other two being Nevada and Delaware.

There is no immediate timeframe for when actual regulation will go into place and when New Jersey residents will actually see online poker sites, casinos and other forms of online gambling open however the wheels are turning.

While this news is awesome for the online gambling community on the whole and especially for online poker because it will be the easiest of the big three to regulate. Furthermore, it's more proof that the states are starting to open their eyes to the money that is going overseas instead of through state-run facilities.

While it may be impossible or un-constitutional to completely stop play offshore, New Jersey residents and those of other states that get in on regulation will prefer playing at state-run poker rooms. Deposits are bound to get easier and cost less to process plus anyone that has a credit card will be able to load their accounts easily.

This could even lead to states issuing prepaid cards that can be sold in convenience stores, drug stores, grocery markets, etc... across the state which could be purchased using cash. There is no telling what the future holds once everything gets regulated but right now things are looking very promising.

Is Online Poker Legal or Illegal?

If we could just cut to the chase and say "yes" or "no", we definitely would but it's much more complicated than that and we do not want to lead to you astray. Plus, what would we talk about if it was that simple?

When you go to start answering this question you've first got to determine what your own personal meaning of what "legal" is. For example, one person may define legal as something they will not get in trouble for as where someone may determine what is legal according to what the letter of the law says.

While it sounds like we're going to leave everything up to interpretation and evade the question, we're not. Instead we're approaching this from a perspective that you will not be able to get unless you have actually played online and know all that comes with it.

Now that doesn't mean we're going to totally disregard the laws, we're just going to explain them and without further ado, let's get into what actually opened the doors for USA players to go online for the game, the Federal Wire Act.

Which Laws Make Online Poker Legal / Illegal?

Federal Wire Act of 1961 - Formed during the Kennedy Administration when gangsters where living it up in Vegas, this law was passed to combat inter-state sports wagering through the use of telephone or even telegraph. Basically it said that it was illegal to use a form of wire communication to place a sports wager over state lines. It let the states that had regulated or legal sports betting at the time control what happened within their borders but anything that crossed state lines was going to be a Federal crime.

As times changed and the advent of Internet gambling came, prosecutors began using this law to go after operators that accepted gambling wagers from U.S. residents and intimidated users. The U.S. even used this law combined with the UIGEA (more below) to shutdown the biggest online poker rooms in the industry, an event referred to as "Black Friday" because users of these sites were rudely greeted with messages of websites being blocked and seized by the Federal government.

But the important thing to note is that the industry didn't die and now it's back stronger than ever. Furthermore, U.S. players no longer even need to worry about this bill as it applies to online poker because the United States Department of Justice re-defined its stance on the law. It its new definition, the DoJ expressly said that this bill only applies to betting on sports... not online casino play or playing online poker.

Once a clear stance had been defined on the Wire Act, players in the U.S. no longer had to or will have to worry about breaking any Federal gambling laws just for playing poker on the Internet.

UIGEA of 2006 - We mentioned this law briefly earlier and now it's time to go in-depth with it. Essentially what you are looking at is a fat piece of pork that Congress is famous for as the UIGEA piggy-backed into existence thanks to the Safe Port Act.

In 2006, the U.S. still had a bad-taste in its mouth after the 9/11 attacks five years before. The Safe Port Act was essentially something that had to be passed in order to keep U.S. ports of entry safe. While the law was needed, Congress had to ratify everything that came with it including the UIGEA.

That's how the UIGEA came into existence but what does it mean? Basically it says that offshore gambling operators (such as online poker websites) will be held liable if they accept payments from Americans for the purpose of wagering.

Sounds simple enough right? Wrong...

Because the U.S. technically cannot get to the operators of the websites based off of U.S. soil, they have since turned to the banks and credit unions to help keep gambling transactions from being processed. Any time a transaction is made with a payment processor that has previously been flagged as "for gambling", those transactions will fail especially those made using a credit card.

Just read the law and you can easily deduce that the UIGEA buts everything on the operators, not the users. While it does make depositing a challenge at times, there are ways to get around it namely by using approved deposit methods accepted by online poker sites. Of course, we have all the information one would need to know to circumvent the UIGEA and its effects.

Legal Age To Play Poker Online - Talking about the UIGEA and deposits is a nice transition into this topic because we're also going to start delving into issues at the state level. But starting with the legal age to play poker, it's important to abide by the age to play in your state as well as the minimum age requirement to register at the poker site you are/are going to be using.

This transition fits because the minimum age usually matches up with whatever the age is to legally access the deposit methods accepted by the poker site; generally 18 years old. That isn't always the case but it is a good rule of thumb to go by.

Our site is setup to display the age to play poker in your state which can be easily accessed by clicking on the preceding link.

Note: The consequences of playing online poker before it is time are something you will want to avoid. Besides violating state laws, underage players usually end up breaking other laws en route to trying to play in cash games and tournaments. It is those secondary infractions which can really land users in real trouble but good news is that it can all be avoided if users just follow the rules.

U.S. State Poker Laws - Now we've finally reached the point where Americans could actually encounter laws which say that players of certain states are breaking the law when playing poker on the web.

Without breaking down the statues in all 50 U.S. States plus U.S. territories and districts, we're just going to say one thing... you are highly unlikely to get into any trouble for playing poker online and if you do, it will likely be your own doing for not being discreet.

We know that states like Alabama and Indiana have stringent online gambling laws which appear to be bad news for the player and if they could actually enforce them, they would. The main thing to note when living in states that forbid online poker play is that no one is going to knock on your door and start asking questions.

Unless you run your mouth about playing online, no one will ever know. Offshore websites do not have to nor will they ever share any info about their clients with U.S. authorities or anyone else for that matter. With that said, the only one that could screw this up is you.

Know that there is nothing physically preventing residents of states that have laws against playing poker on the Internet such as blocking the poker websites that accept U.S. players. If it were that serious, don't you think there might be something to actually stop you from doing it?

Finally, we cannot mention the states that have laws against the activity without mentioning the states whose gambling laws say absolutely nothing about it. When it comes to online poker, if a state doesn't have something that says Internet poker or gambling is illegal, residents of those states can consider it to be legal even if it is in a bit of a gray-area; not forbidden equals allowed in states w/o online poker laws.

More About Poker's "Black Friday"

There is still confusion when it comes to understanding what actually went down on "Black Friday" because the poker giants were not shut down for simply offering poker players a place to play online. It turned out that these websites actually turned out to be Ponzi scams in which player's money being held in escrow wasn't really there. In other words, they did not have enough money to cover all the funds that had been deposited into their websites.

The Feds stepped in when they did to keep the situation from becoming any worse than what it already was but remaining player funds were seized. For some players this meant tens of thousands of dollars, for some not so much was at risk but all assets of the website's and their owners had to be sold before funds could be re-distributed.

Most had the opportunity to get their funds back while some did not bother. Of the ones that did receive compensation, few ever got 100% of their funds which is why online poker got a really bad rap after the biggest names in the industry went down.

What's The Bottom Line?

That basically sums it all up and now you can make your own decision. As with everything we do, it is important to be sure that readers understand that our info should not be construed as legal advice.

Pretending to be lawyers or any type of legal professional would be a bold-faced lie and it would only hurt those that use the advice found here; that's not what we're all about. Instead, consulting someone that is familiar with all your state's statutes is going to the best course of action if you need more re-assurance of poker's legality.

A licensed attorney can tell you what ramifications await those who gamble over the Net and you can even ask them to research whether anyone has ever been arrested, if anyone has ever done time in jail simply for playing online poker.

We already know the answer but maybe you need to hear that from a qualified individual which is perfectly understandable. is not here to pressure anyone but rather be a resource that citizens can reference. A trained legal professional is another one of those resources however our website is free whereas an hour-long consultation will take money out of your pocket; the better the lawyer, the more money it could potentially cost.

Money shouldn't be an issue when it comes to your security and peace of mind; a little money invested now could end up paying dividends down the road.