This page provides a variety of resources regarding legal US online poker.
Get snapshots of the three open markets directly below, click here to jump to the latest US online poker news and developments, click here to learn more about the states that are considering regulating online poker, and click here for some of the legal background surrounding US online poker.
Online poker is currently regulated in three US states: Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware.
Learn more about NJ online poker here. A snapshot of the leading sites in NJ’s online poker market is provided in the table below.
The second-largest state offering regulated online poker sites in the US, Nevada’s regulated Internet poker space is dominated by WSOP.com.
Nevada differs from NJ and DE in that Nevada only offers poker online – no casino games.
Delaware operates a single online poker site that all three authorized brands feed into.
The inaugural PokerStars Festival New Jersey stands to prove a victory for PokerStars, and an even bigger win for Resorts in Atlantic City.
With a friendly bill being introduced, Pechanga and other California tribes are now exploring their online poker partnership options.
NJ online poker reviews from a player perspective for all of the major New Jersey online poker sites along with traffic rankings, mobile info and...
A study conducted by Rutgers University shows that gamblers are making some use of the responsible gaming options offered by NJ online gambling sites.
PokerStars is strongly opposing a bill that would keep it out of the California online poker market for five years, but does that make it...
Where do those efforts stand right now?
Michigan represents the newest effort to regulate online gaming in the US. As such, it’s the one that has the most optimism behind it.
The good news in Michigan? It already has one form of online gaming: The state offers lottery games over the internet.
The legislature is set to adjourn late next month, so the prospects of passing the bill in the short term might seem bleak, barring a quick turnaround. But adding another state to the iGaming conversation still represents a positive development.
California has been looking at the issue of legalizing online poker for the better part of a decade. But 2016 could represent the best chance yet for online gaming in the most populous state.
The 2016 effort differs from the 2015 push in that the horse racing industry is largely in favor of the bill, thanks to a subsidy in the tens of millions of dollars it would receive as part of the legislation. That comes in exchange for the horse tracks giving up the right to be an online poker operator.
At the same time, the “bad actor” debate — aka whether PokerStars will be allowed in the California market — appears to have raised its ugly head again.
An amendment to AB 2863 further defined the tax rate and moved the bad actor bright-line to December 31, 2011, but that was hardly enough of a compromise for an influential coalition of tribes spearheaded by the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians and Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.
Despite the ongoing debate, the bill passed Appropriations and is headed to the Assembly floor in August.
Whether or not a growing coalition consisting of PokerStars, big-name cardrooms, racetracks and tribes will carry enough weight to push the bill through Assembly remains to be seen. But given that passage requires a two-thirds majority, it seems like the battle to regulate California online poker in 2016 will be uphill.
In 2015, a bill (HB 649) sponsored by Rep. John Payne reached the House floor before action on the bill stopped.
The fact that it was tied to other gaming expansions and revenue might have been one of the reasons it wasn’t passed. Those concerns were still alive and well going into 2016, with a provision to allow video gaming terminals at private establishments at the center of the debate.
This year’s effort got off to a shaky start, as two amendments – one that included the addition of VGTs at non-casino locations – were soundly defeated.
The tide turned in late June, when HB 2150 – a multifaceted gaming reform bill that included daily fantasy sports, online poker and casino, and other reforms – was amended to not include VGTs. The Youngblood amendment passed by a 115-80 margin.
Just one week later, HB 2150 cleared a vote in the House.
In mid-July Gov. Tom Wolf allowed a spending plan to become law. Earmarked as part of the revenue package to fund it is $100 million from gambling expansion within state borders.
However, any expanded gambling legislation – which is likely to include language that will legalize online poker and casinos – will not be voted on until the fall, when the Senate returns from recess.
At present, the odds are strongly in favor of regulated online gambling becoming a reality this year, but anything can happen in the next few months.
Optimism gave way to malaise when the bill’s progress came to a standstill, and when iPoker didn’t survive in the final budget.
Assembly member Gary Pretlow further dampened hopes when he put the odds of online poker reaching a vote at 100-to-1 or worse.
A late legislative push brightened the outlook momentarily, but on the same day S5302 passed by an overwhelming margin in the Senate, Pretlow pronounced the online poker bill dead in his chamber. An explanation as to why the bill stalled in the Assembly has yet to be provided.
Although NY online poker failed to cross the finish line in 2016, momentum is building rapidly, rendering New York an odds on favorite to pass a bill next year.
There are currently no federal laws that directly prohibit or authorize online poker.
However, several federal statutes have the potential to prohibit online gaming in some way shape or form, if state laws are ambiguous. That said, only two of the four federal statutes that could apply to online gambling, IGBA and UIGEA, could reasonably be applied to online poker.
The other two federal laws often cited in online gambling discussions, 1992’s Professional and Amateur Sports Act (PASPA) and the 1961 Wire Act, are sports betting specific.
For the Wire Act, this wasn’t always the case.
Up until 2011 The DOJ’s interpretation of the 1961 Wire Act (first officially entered in 2002) effectively made online poker illegal in the US. That changed when, at the urging of Illinois and New York, the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel reexamined the Wire Act, and concluded its scope is limited to sports betting.
Congressman Joe Barton introduced his semi-yearly online poker legalization bill in 2015, dubbed The Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2015 (HR 2888). Unfortunately, there is simply no momentum for this issue at the federal level and HR 2888 managed to entice just two other members of Congress as cosponsors in 2015.
On the opposite side of the coin, the continued efforts, led by Sheldon Adelson, to ban online gaming has also garnered little support in Congress.
In 2015, the Adelson-inspired Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) bill was introduced in the House and Senate for the second consecutive year by Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) respectively.
RAWA managed to muster two hearings in the House in 2015, but both hearings seemed to have done more harm than good, as they hypocrisy of the bill was on full display, and the wind has completely been taken out of its sails. RAWA is one of the rare bills in Congress that has widespread bipartisan opposition.
Progress on a bill either legalizing or prohibiting online poker is unlikely in 2016 for several reasons: