State Poker Laws

The laws surrounding the game of poker, especially online, can be tough to navigate. Some misinformed people have spread rumors that online betting is illegal in the U.S., but the truth is far less cut-and-dry. The fact is that all states have unique laws relating to poker. A few have strict rules against playing for money, while many states have little-to-no regulations regarding gambling.

This page (and the proceeding pages) will help guide players through the legal landscape, state by state. We will dispel rumors that are floating around about poker, and explain the laws of each state in plain English. Legalese is a dialect unto itself which can leave many readers confused. We have researched the laws of every state in America to give players an accessible guide to what they can and cannot do in regards to poker.

Legal Landscape for Poker in the US

Some of the federal laws surrounding poker go as far back as the country itself. Time still hasn’t told us how effective some of these laws were, but today the world of poker is far more regulated with considerably less corruption.

With the advent of online gambling, the Supreme Court felt obligated to put forth some contemporary laws to regulate the newfound freedom of the gambling world. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) caused quite a stir in America, as it effectively shut down all online poker establishments on our shores in a milestone event known in the gambling world as “Black Friday.” The UIGEA made the operation of an online gambling establishment an illegal act in the US. The one big distinction to understand about the UIGEA is that it does NOT state that the mere participation in online betting or wagering is illegal. This is why millions of Americans are playing poker online legally, for real money, on sites that are located outside of the US. These sites are legally functioning establishments that are dictated by the laws of the lands they reside on. In most of America, players are well within their rights to play poker on any of these legitimate websites.

The overall attitude towards poker in the US is that it is an American pastime, albeit one that should be regulated. This is why, like alcohol or operating a motor vehicle, there are legal ages for gambling that vary by state. Most agree that poker can be profitable for the player, as well as the economy, so almost nowhere is it outright banned (although some states do not look kindly towards the game). The legal age for land-based poker is generally 18-21. Although most poker sites require you to be 18 or older to join, it is always best to go by the state’s required age when engaging in any form of gambling.

Land-Based vs. Online Poker

The laws differ in regards to land-based and online poker. With many states struggling to find new sources of revenue, there is always some sort of legislation in the works revolving around the lucrative world of gambling. The state laws that regulate land-based wagering differ vastly. As you can probably guess, states like Nevada allow regulated gambling entirely. Then there are states like Utah which ban any game of chance played for any purpose entirely. The penalties for gambling vary by state and can carry charges ranging petty, to a felony. You will find links to the gambling statutes for every state at the bottom of this page, which we highly suggest looking at before engaging in any type of wagering game, online or otherwise.

Online gambling is governed by a few of the same laws as land-based gambling. If a state has not adopted a specific law prohibiting the playing of gambling games over the Internet, it does not mean that gambling over the Internet is legal under the laws of that state. This presents a complex situation in some states because, while there might be strict laws against land-based gambling, there is no legislation regarding online betting, presenting a grey-area that the player must navigate. This is why it is good to read your state laws and decide for yourself how much of a risk you might be taking when playing online. The fact is, most states do not expressly prohibit internet gambling, and there are very few cases where a person has been prosecuted for playing online. It is ultimately up to the player to assess the risks involved with gambling online.

Poker Laws In Your State

The laws for poker, online or real-world, vary by state. Some U.S. states have exemptions for regulated casinos, such as Nevada (big surprise), Ohio, and Colorado, where there are many land-based venues to choose from. There are also some states that don’t allow casinos to function, but do have exemptions specifically for poker such as New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, and more.

None of the laws applying to land-based poker apply to legal online poker sites. In most states, there are no strict laws when it comes to using offshore poker sites. There are a few exceptions though. Washington State has harsh laws regarding participating in online gambling, which could result in a felony. This being the case, there has never been a conviction for online gambling in the state. Utah has similarly harsh laws forbidding any participation in online wagering.

It would be wise, before signing up for a site, to review your state laws so you can understand what kind of penalties you could potentially lie ahead. Many states are excessively vague about their online gambling laws, leaving some people more confused than when they started looking them up. Although states like Washington and Ohio have strict laws, there are still many residents in each state using legal online gambling sites.

Our advice is to check out your state laws, and continue at your own risk. You may be able to take some comfort in the fact that millions of Americans are using these sites every day without legal repercussions. While we can’t assure you that it is completely safe to use these poker sites in your state, we can confirm that the statistics acknowledge a good sense of security.

Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California
Colorado Connecticut Delaware Florida Georgia
Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa
Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland
Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri
Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey
New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio
Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina
South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont
Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming
Online Poker Rooms That Accept Residents From All 50 States

Occasionally state laws clash with individual gambling sites, causing them to exclude membership to residents of said states. This is not always the case though, as there are many reputable online poker rooms that accept members from all 50 states. These websites operate out of places like the Republic of Panama, where owning/operating an online betting establishment is completely legal. These are reputable sites that you can feel safe gambling at, backed by U.S. media giants such as USA Today and FOX Sports, and frequented by professional and amateur players alike. These sites have been functioning legally for decades, so you can have faith in the fact that you are doing business with the most professional institutions in the business.

BetOnline Poker Great Player Experience - Legal In ALL 50 States!

Good news, one of the most reputable gambling sites in the world accepts members from all 50 states! At BetOnline, you will find some of the most streamlined wagering options on the web. From sports betting and horse racing, to virtual casinos and poker, BetOnline offers a world-class panoramic gambling experience. Quickly becoming a favorite among poker pros and amateurs alike, you will find well-populated tables playing everything from Texas Hold’em to Omaha hi/lo. Operating for more than a decade, BetOnline offers unique poker action for players of any level.

There has never been a better time to sign up at BetOnline, as they are offering new members a sup-generous 200% signup bonus. Supply a massive boost to your bankroll after making your first deposit but taking advantage of this promotion. Just navigate to the promotions section of BetOnline and they will supply you will a promo code. Email this code to the staff and you will be eligible to receive up to $1,000 in bonus cash. Bonuses like this are why BetOnline is home to a thriving community of satisfied members.

SportsBetting Poker Legal Poker for Every State in the U.S.A.

Don’t let the name fool you, SportsBetting isn’t all about the sportsbook (even though it is the most up-to-date sportsbook in the business, this site has a gigantic poker community enjoying some of the best online gaming on the web. Backed by the likes of FOX Sports and ESPN, SportsBetting has been the bees’ knees of online gambling action for over a decade. Many poker pros are claiming SportsBetting as their base of operations when away from the real felt. The site is also filled with casual fans and aficionados having a great time playing for real money.

Bonuses abound at, always giving members the chance to earn extra cash. Poker fans that feel like Lady Luck is often by their sides are in for a treat with the 4 of a Kind Challenge. Get 4 of a kind in any real money ring Texas Hold’em game while the challenge message is flashing in your poker software, and you will be eligible to receive $40 in cash. As long as you used both of your hole cards in the hand, you are eligible to the free money. Unique bonuses like this make a top contender for the best gambling site in the world.

Top Poker Rooms for US Players
  • BetOnline - Poker Rooms With Bonuses up to $1.000!
  • TRY IT!