In April 2011, the United States Department of Justice sent a swift message to the poker community. That message was clear – the American government hates online poker in the US. However, despite its ridiculous efforts, the government will NEVER eliminate online poker in the United States, no matter how hard they try. In fact, several states, such as Nevada and New Jersey, have successfully legalized it – and there is likely going to be legal online poker in California soon as well.
Is Online Poker Legal?
Just about everybody who plays poker, especially online poker, asks the question “Is online poker legal?” at some point in their poker playing career. Can you play safely and legally? Yes you can! It is not illegal for an poker player to engage in an online poker game. It is, however, illegal to operate an online poker site from within the United States without the proper license.
Poker players can still enjoy playing online poker at any of the following online poker sites for Americans:
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Is Playing Online Poker a Crime?
Online poker is NOT a crime in the United States. Operating online poker sites, on the other hand, is. What’s that mean for poker players? Don’t attempt to build your own poker site and operate it within the United States or you will be at the mercy of the DOJ. But you sure as heck are legally allowed to earn a living playing poker online.
Is There a Legal Online Poker Site in My State?
Each state defines the legality of online poker a bit different. At this time, it is legal to play poker in Nevada as well as New Jersey. We encourage you to view this state regulation map if you’re unsure of whether your state has legal online poker right now. That link seems to be updated regularly and will give you the details about the legality of online poker in your state.
2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act
The 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act immediately became a very hot topic, and to this day it still is. The law was snuck into the final pages of the “Safe Port Act,” which is an anti-terrorist act that only a crazy senator would vote against, on the last day of its deadline and was signed at almost midnight! This law attempted to restrict US online poker players from making transactions to online poker sites for Americans by prohibiting financial transactions to internet gambling websites from banks.
Can US Poker Players Make a Real Money Deposit?
When we said that US poker players could legally play online, we weren’t just talking about play money games. You are now legally eligible to play real money poker online in the United States. Players can deposit onto a poker site, so long as they don’t mind going around some minor obstacles. The first obstacle is your bank. Since financial institutions aren’t supposed to allow “illegal” online gambling transactions to go through, they may decline your deposit so they aren’t putting themselves at risk. From their viewpoint, its better to ban all online gambling transactions, that to play chief and decide which ones are legal, and which are illegal.
What should you do if your financial institution says “no” to your poker deposit? Find another way to make a deposit. There are plenty options available. Some poker sites give you more options than others. In the past, PayPal has regretfully declined online poker transaction attempts. But that might be changing, per this article about PayPal’s stance on online gambling. The poker community will be thrilled to have PayPal on board. Until that day comes, these are the deposit methods offered (depending on the poker site):
Visa Debit/Credit Card
MasterCard hates online gambling, so if you have a MasterCard, it’s best to not even waste your time attempting to make a deposit. Use something else. Visa, on the other hand, is hit or miss. It all depends on the specific financial institution. Many poker players have some success using a Visa card. Until PayPal joins in on the fun, we here at Mac Poker Online will always suggest using a Visa card first. If that doesn’t work, try one of these…
eChecks was a popular way to make a deposit back in the day. But times have changed thanks to the United States Department of Justice. Currently, only one poker site uses eChecks. That site is BetOnline Poker. That is a very good website, as you will discover from the review, but you should know that is the only site you will be able to make a deposit using eChecks. In case you aren’t familiar with eChecks, you deposit with your checking account and the funds are available within seconds.
Western Union or MoneyGram
This isn’t the most convenient deposit method, but it is effective. You probably know how to send money through Western Union or MoneyGram. Go to a local retailer in your area and fill out a Western Union or MoneyGram form with the correct information provided by the poker site. This isn’t a free method, so check with the retailer to find out how much you will be charged. By the time you’re back home, the money should be available in your poker account.
How Are Payouts Processed for US Players?
Certainly you want your money after you dominate the poker tables online. You’ll be happy to know that you won’t have to fly overseas to collect your winnings and you won’t have to wait weeks to get your money if you’re playing at one of our trusted poker sites for Americans. Before making your first deposit, check with the site to ensure you’re okay with the payout methods. Some sites will send you a check. Others will give you your money back in the same manner it was deposited.
Why is the DOJ Trying to Stop US Citizens From Playing Online Poker?
Let’s be honest here. The DOJ’s decision to crack down on online poker back in 2011 was nothing more than political BS. And it’s quite pathetic that the US government has stooped to childish levels to attempt to prevent its citizens from playing poker online. If the online poker industry handed politicians more money than local casinos do, they would encourage online poker.
Will US Online Poker Ever Be Completely Legal?
It’s unfortunate that the US DOJ is attempting to spoil our fun. But some states (NJ, NV) have begun regulating online poker and making it completely legal. For the rest of the country, you can play poker online but you do need to know your state’s regulations. When New Jersey online poker and Nevada online poker has become legalized, the online poker community cheered for passing such a great hurdle. We are optimistic about the future of legal online poker in the United States.
Legal US Online Poker
If you’re looking to play it safe in regards to online poker in the US and you’re not able to play online poker in Nevada or online poker in New Jersey, then you’re currently going to be hard pressed to find legal US poker sites to play at. In the late 2000’s, a site named Duplicate Poker was very successful at attaining a certain level of legality within the United States as a skill gaming website. Unfortunately, the 2008 economy of the United States was too much for the investors to handle and, after getting their 250,000th sign up, Duplicate Poker closed.
Duplicate Poker was a site where players play against other players at different tables. The catch is that your opponents receive the exact same cards and play the exact same hands as you do, except for against different opponents. The player who profits the most in that hand playing those specific cards, wins the money.
Videos About the Legalities of Online Poker
I want to point you to some videos that I have placed on this website. I know that I don’t like to be bored by a whole bunch of literature and I am sure neither do you. Nobody reading this wants to wade through a bunch of complicated legal language in order to decipher its meaning. Without further adue, the videos…
J Todd on the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act Part I (1:47)
J Todd on the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act Part II (3:49)
J Todd’s Funny Video About the “CDD Disease” Running in the Senate and House (3:24)
Senator Barney Frank Notices Senates Concern With Gambling and the GDP (4:13)
Ron Paul vs. Congress: Don’t Regulate the Internet (2:19)
Shelley Berkley’s 1 Minute Speech on Attaching Unlawful Internet Gambling Bill to Defense Bill (1:17)
Shelly Berkley’s 3 Minute Speech on Attaching Unlawful Internet Gambling Bill to Defense Bill (2:47)
Now that you’ve viewed at least some of these videos, you are more prepared to read articles that directly affect the internet gambling industry, including online poker.
Online Poker Legal Articles
There are many other resources about the legalities of online poker in the United States. If you’re interested in learning more, I encourage you to check out the following sites:
1) Poker Players Alliance
The Poker Players Alliance is like the Dean of Students for poker players. They accept donations and stand up to politicians to fight for the rights of online poker players. Check out their site to see just what they are doing for poker players around the world.
2) Google News
Simply doing a search for “online poker legal” in Google news will yield some incredible results. This way, you can be certain that the information you are receiving is up to date, although you can’t be certain of its accuracy.