The State of Online Poker in the US

A very frequently asked question I get from US based PokerJuicers is: Where can you legally play online poker in the US?

Ever since Black Friday this has also been quite blurry to me so I decided to take a closer look into this. Initial research made it clear that this was not an easily answered question. So I reached out to  PokerUpdate.com, who seemed to have made some interesting industry and market analysis on this very topic, and they have assisted me in answering this question.

Status right now is that there is a myriad of online poker rooms operating in a grey area and it is not quite simple to find out which sites are credible, regulated and fully licensed. But fortunately there are indeed several states that allow players to legally play online poker games including Omaha.

The truth is that there is no federal law prohibiting poker players in the US from playing real money poker games online. However state law varies and it is important to stay abreast of the latest legal online poker regulations in order to safeguard your personal information and your payouts. Presently, the majority of states in the US do not explicitly allow for legal online poker gaming. There are, however, several states that are clear about where they stand – either pro or against online poker gaming.

Several states have not made definitive decisions regarding their approach to online poker. Legal online poker in the US is split between proponents and opponents of online gaming, but the difference with poker is that it is perceived as a skill-based game.

As such, it warrants careful attention among gaming enthusiasts. Remember that there are no federal statutes prohibiting players from enjoying online poker games in the US. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) actually covers payments processing issues and not online poker gaming. This is an important point since many online poker players mistakenly believe that legal online poker in the US is a fallacy. For the most part, states across the union consider online poker to be a grey area.

Which States Currently Allow Legal Real Money Online Poker?

Presently, Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware are the only states that allow fully regulated online poker gaming for US online poker players. In fact, anyone of legal age and resident in these states is allowed to play online poker games at the best US regulated poker sites. Some of the most popular online poker rooms include Borgata (Party/Borgata) and Caesars (888/WSOP).  These poker rooms dominate the scene in New Jersey, with Borgata accounting for close to 55% of market share as of October 2015 and Caesars accounting for approximately 45% of market share as at October 2015. New Jersey is by far the biggest online poker market in the US at this time, owing to a massive player base and a keen interest in the game. New Jersey players get to enjoy a large multi-table tournament series, much higher rake caps, weekday major tournaments, freeze-outs, and the like.

The most popular online poker room in Nevada is WSOP.com – the online poker room of the prestigious World Series of Poker. The state of Delaware legalized online poker in the summer of 2012, at the same time as it legalized online gambling. Bill HB 333, the Delaware Gambling Competitiveness Act of 2012 was introduced and it was ratified on 28 June 2012. The premier online poker provider for Delaware is 888 – a single operator poker platform. A full spread of online poker games is available to players in Delaware, and the market is steadily growing to accommodate more players by way of mobile poker innovations and enhanced marketing and advertising initiatives. Recall that banking options have typically been an issue with online poker and online casino operators. However, in Delaware it’s possible to make credit card deposits with MasterCard and Visa, as well ACH withdrawals. The other alternative available to players is the live cash deposit option. There are currently interstate gaming compacts in effect between various states to enhance the player pool and the prize pool.

Which States are Currently Thinking of Legalizing Online Poker?

According to PokerUpdate there are several states considering legalizing online poker, including Illinois, Pennsylvania and California. The passage to legislation in Illinois has been fraught with difficulty, however new gambling bills continue to make their way to the legislature. In California, various poker bills have been introduced including AB 9, AB 167 and AB 431. In the Golden State, there has to be unanimous agreement among the Native American tribes vis-a-vis poker regulation. In Pennsylvania, an online poker bill – HB 649 recently made its way onto the House floor and the House Gaming Oversight Committee approved the measure by a margin of 18 – 8. Once it passes the Pennsylvania House it will move on to the Senate and the Governor will have the ability to sign it into law.

Let me know what you think about this post and feel free to give some insight and/or add your comments below!

Cheers
Nikolaj

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