How Federal Online Poker Legislation and US Online Poker Laws Work

We know US poker fans are serious about enjoying a good game, and that they want to know they are safe and secure playing online. Most importantly, US players like to know where they stand legally. On this page we've gone through the legislation and legal points surrounding online poker to set your mind at ease. You can rest assured that you will only ever be playing legal poker games.

Read on to find out about the following topics:

  • Federal laws and online poker
  • What is the UIGEA?
  • The impact of the UIGEA
  • Where are things at now?
  • The legal poker states
  • Policing legal sites
  • The states against online poker
  • The next states to legalize
  • Can I play online poker in the US?

What Federal laws are in place with regard to online poker?

The Federal law you’ll hear most about in relation to online poker legality is the infamous Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006. It was passed in an attempt to better regulate online gambling in America and shook up the online legal poker world in a big way

Breaking down the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act

UIGEA was an addition to the Safe Port Act, and it set out to stop American-based websites taking real cash in relation to illegal online gambling activity. The wording confused many, however, and there remain many grey areas in regard to the bill. There has also been strong opposition to it.

What was the impact of the Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act?

Some of the biggest online poker sites in America decided to withdraw their services to US residents on the back of the bill being passed – worried that may be prosecuted. Others persisted, believing they were within the law to do so.

What is the current legal climate with regard to online poker in America?

The Federal government has now put legalizing online poker in the hands of the 50 individual states – inviting them to pass their own bills should they feel so inclined.

Which states have already passed laws to legalize online poker?

The first three states to legalize online poker in America are Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada. All three have licensed operators to provide online poker to residents and collect tax revenue from the profits. They also charge license fees to the online poker providers.

How do they ensure players are coming from inside their state?

Technology can track where a player is playing, based on their IP address and other information. This should ensure that only players inside the borders of Delaware, New Jersey or Nevada are able to access real money legal poker online in their respective states.

Are there states that will never make poker legal?

There are certainly some states that appear less receptive to the idea of legalizing poker at this point in time. Georgia would be in that category, being a conservative political area that has a firm stance against gambling generally.

Will more states legalize online poker?

This is almost inevitable. With the tax revenue on offer and the chance to generate jobs, all states will at least consider legalizing online poker at some point. Several states appear to be on the verge of making a move – inspired by Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada.

Which states should we be watching with regard to new bills?

According to Poker News, “11 US states have given it (legalizing online poker) some level of consideration”. The same article suggests Illinois, Pennsylvania, Mississippi and California are leading the pack when it comes to states that will follow the initial three.

Can I play online poker outside of the three legal states in America?

Even before legal poker came to Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware, we can’t find evidence of a single US resident being charged or prosecuted for playing. That doesn’t mean you should go right ahead; just that officials appear more focused on prosecuting illegal poker websites than the people who play them. Consult a legal expert for more information.