Is Online Poker Poker Legal in the United States?
Poker has become an immensely popular activity throughout the country and is now one of the most common social games among folks everywhere. The game takes a little bit of luck but a lot of skill which has players honing their abilities in any way that they can, wherever they can. Whether it is a home poker night with the guys, an afternoon playing cards with family or a trip to the nearest card room to play for serious stakes, poker has become commonplace with many in the United States. The internet has pushed the amount of venues available even further.
With all of the options for online poker littering the internet, many U.S. players want to know if these sites are legal. The quick answer is that they certainly are so long as you are visiting the right sites and adhering to both federal and state regulations along with a poker network which is doing the same. There are a number of online poker sites which are well within the realm of law and this page is here to explain how and why they are legal and where you may find them.
There are a number of federal laws which impact gambling in general in the United States and as poker is a game which oftentimes involves betting with real money, these laws do indeed apply to online poker. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) perhaps has the most effect on online poker as it forbids banking transactions between a business and a person looking to make a wager on U.S. soil. While the act of simply placing a bet is not illegal, the business of conducting a gambling operation or facilitating bets for a profit is.
What this means for U.S. poker players looking to get into a game for real money over the internet is that they are absolutely legally able to do so, but the venues of which to play are non-existent under federal jurisdiction. To work around this, the solution for players and online poker rooms is actually quite simple. If an online poker site is located outside of the United States and within a country that online poker is regulated and legalized, they are perfectly free to operate and American citizens are perfectly able to visit and use their site. Easy, right?
There is a wide open door for online poker sites to legally operate and you will find them scattered across the internet hosting millions upon millions of poker games. They have been operating for decades from locations such as Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe, and South/Central America and despite their foreign locations, are even intentionally designed to be used and frequented by American players. Provided that a U.S. resident is of legal age to make wagers at poker sites under their own local laws, he or she is legally able to real money poker games on a website which is based outside of the country.
As we noted in the last section, the UIGEA does nothing to prohibit a citizen from the simple act of placing a bet in a poker game but it does complicate banking transactions. Credit and debit card transactions are the means which are primarily affected by the law, making it difficult to fund an online poker account or receive payouts, at least on the surface. American players are not entirely prevented from playing poker for money online, however. The Act targets gambling businesses in U.S. territories and not the mere participants of such operations. Also, other forms of transactions other than Credit/Debit cards are largely left alone.
When an American player finds a legal online poker site that they like, they will find that they are legally able to deposit or send money to their account with the service by a credit or debit card. Most legal sites which are outside of the United States will have no problem with this as the member is breaking no rule and the site is well within its right of business in its own country. These online poker sites are aware of the worries that a U.S. resident may have and take large steps with security, privacy, and discretion to provide comfort to their customers. A site may list a transaction on a member’s credit/debit statement as “Gym equipment- $20.00” instead of “Poker money- $20.00” for instance, to reassure a player that they are in quiet company. While this is not an illegal activity, many players feel much more at ease with such a discreet service.
When a player wishes to make a withdrawal from their online poker account, they will notice that there is no option to use a credit or debit card to have the funds sent back to them. This is due to the effects of the UIGEA as no online poker service wishes to entangle themselves with U.S. laws. This is not a concern for players or the service however, as players are still able to receive their winnings in a variety of other ways. Payout methods will include but are not limited to paper checks, money orders, bank wire transfers, eWallet transfers and even Bitcoin payments, all of which are entirely legal for both the site and the player. Most U.S. residents elect to receive their winnings in the form of a check by courier which is mailed to their home address for a minimal fee. Funds are typically delivered to players within the United States in around 10 business days with options for express payments if desired.
When you are looking for the right place to play online poker, the best place to start obviously, is searching online. Clearly, your internet search has brought you here to this page so you are on the right path! In fact, you are more than halfway to your destination of an online poker room with games for real money winnings.
The first thing to look for when searching for a legal online poker service is of course whether or not it is legal. The deciding factor in this small but most important trait is the site’s location. If the site is located outside of the United States and not under any federal or state laws, then you are at a site in which you may legally play poker on.
After determining that a site is operating legally outside of the United States, you will want to know if it is a trusted site. There are a few simple tips and parameters to watch out for when checking a new online poker site out and we’ll list them here for you to consider.
- Do your research and look up user reviews of people who have already been using the service.
- Read the ‘About Us’ section on the site’s homepage and be sure to note how long they have been in business and if they have a licensing authority.
- Look at their deposit and payout methods and see if they accept major credit cards.
- Look at the language and design of the site to see that it is optimized for an American user and uses proper English grammar or displays monetary values in USD ($). Many online poker sites are made for American players and it is best to use them over others.
- Explore the different table options and take note of how many players are currently playing; if it’s good enough for them to be wagering their money, then it is likely good enough for you and safe.
- Check out their perks, bonuses, and special promotions. While a live poker room or casino may offer free drinks and snacks, a reputable online poker room will be parting with opportunities in free chips and betting money to keep their members happy.
- Does the country in which the site is located have its own online gaming and banking laws? Is this a reputable nation which is friendly to Americans?
- Does the site have “Guaranteed” Tournaments or Prize pools? If a site has lots of happy members making wagers and playing lots of poker games, they will likely be able to promise high stakes games each and every week.
These are some of the most important characteristics that a great online poker site will have and we are happy to report that we have searched the internet both far and wide in searching for such reputable sites with great success. There were many good sites but there were a few which were truly great and a cut above the rest. We welcome you to check them out below.
- Read More: Learn to Play Legal Online Poker
BetOnline is another online poker site which greatly impressed us and gained our endorsement along with the likes of USA Today, Fox Sports, CNBC and Yahoo Sports. BetOnline boasts having the fastest growing poker room in the United States and it clear why that is the case. With revolving and ongoing promotions, this online poker room keeps your chips stacked and offers over $250,000 in guaranteed prize pools each and every week. Featuring a spritely and fast downloadable software, members are able to get into casual games or huge tournament action at any hour of the day or night.
The signup Bonus alone is well worth the visit as new members are instantly rewarded with a 200% increase to their first deposit simply by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with 'POKERNEW' written in the subject line. As their motto "Because You Can" states at the top of their homepage, we urge U.S. poker players to try their services "Because you should".
Don’t let the name of this online poker site fool you. SportsBetting may seem to have an emphasis on sports but then again, players here are serious enough to make you reconsider whether the game of poker should be considered a sport. The streamlined downloadable software from this poker site will have you playing against millions of some of the top players in the world with the majority of them residing in the United States. Whether it be Texas Hold ‘Em, Omaha or 7-Card Stud, players will be able to sit in on a casual game or dive into one of the high stakes tournaments which SportsBetting.ag routinely hosts.
This online poker site also separates itself from the competition with opportunities at 24/7 freerolls which allow members a shot at winning a lot without risking a single penny. SportsBetting also has a competitive leaderboard challenge which ranks the progress of all of the players on the network. Those who rank in the top 100 of either of their Bronze, Silver or Gold categories are automatically registered into the Leaderboard Face-Off Tournaments where prize pools vary from $500 to $2000. The competition at SportsBetting is intense and we greatly enjoy watching our movement within the pack of talented players.