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With all of the complexities surrounding the access and legality of online poker in the United States these days, as well as all of the misinformation out there on it, online poker players have not had an easy time at all understanding what the real availability and reality is.
For many years now, a lot of American players have been kept out of the online poker scene due to misconceptions about its legalities in general. However, UIGEA and Black Friday only slowed down online poker and it put stricter standards on banks and other financial institutions who continued to facilitate deposits and cashouts for players.
What it DID NOT do was make online poker a federal crime for the player itself. If you live in the United States and your state hasn’t passed individual legislation regarding the criminalities of online gambling, you are more than free to sign up at any offshore poker site that allows Americans and you are able to deposit your hard-earned cash if that’s what you so choose to do.
However, just know that some banks will make it difficult to process your deposits and you’re always taking a risk if you sign up with a shady poker site that doesn’t have an already strong reputation in servicing United States players and paying them out properly. We do our best here at PokerLaws.org to steer you towards only the most trustworthy rooms and ones we’ve vetted over the years in the poker industry.
Proper Interpretation of the Laws
Poker players may know a fair bit about poker but generally know very little about interpreting laws, so this is why a site such as ours can be a valuable resource. What we do not provide legal advice here of course, we do provide to you our understanding of how the law in a given state may apply to online poker and online gambling, which will serve to enhance your understanding of it.
There are other sites which may discuss these matters but in general they tend to be superficial and may rely on some common misconceptions, such as if the law does not address online gambling specifically then it cannot be prohibited, which is not true at all.
This area can be complex enough that even legal experts can disagree a fair bit, and the law tends to be vague quite often but this is actually intentional, to allow for it to apply better to changing circumstances, as well as allow it more flexibility generally. This vagueness is not without its problems though, especially to the inexperienced eye.
So we’re here to help you sort all of this out so you can have a good idea of whether it may be legal to play online poker in your state, and what the issues may be. We are also here to be your guide to playing poker in your state, whether that be whether you can play online poker living in the state you live in, where the best places to play online poker are if any good options do exist and to properly interpret any and all US online casino legalities as well.
This all must be tackled on a state by state basis though due to the fact that each state is truly separate and unique, which is why we have a separate section for every state in the country.
The Real “Legality” of Online Poker in the USA
The first big misconception is that there has been a feeling among a great many players that online poker is not legal in the United States. Sure, there could be a law prohibiting the transmission of gambling information across state lines, or internationally, but there isn’t one now nor has there ever been for that matter, so that’s the first thing that needs to be understood.
When you see attempts to “legalize” online poker in Congress, this just serves to further confuse matters, as Congress does not have the authority to legalize online poker in the United States, as these matters are entirely decided by each individual state. The most Congress can do is not stand in the way, and they don’t presently anyway, so no such legislation is even required.
So if federal law does not prohibit it, and it could only prohibit certain forms of it, for instance it could not prohibit gambling taking place entirely within a state whether it wanted to or not, then the ball gets turned over entirely to the states to decide this, and that includes playing at offshore online poker sites.
Determining State Poker Laws
So in order to decide whether playing online poker is legal in a given state, we must first turn to the laws that exist in that state. Laws vary from state to state, especially in how they address the possibility of online poker, so each must be treated differently.
So that’s exactly what we do for you on this site, look at the law of each state in the country and provide for you an interpretation of how that law applies generally and how it may apply to online poker in particular.
This can be a fairly tricky business at the best of times, and this can especially be the case since a lot of state law was not written to even address online poker or online gambling for that matter, since it’s often the case that the law was written before the existence of internet communication.
The Future of Online Poker in Your State
We will also give you a heads up on whether any legislation is planned to regulate online poker in your state, as well as what the level of progress with that may be. There are a few states now which have regulated poker, and more that are considering it, and the list is growing all the time.
It is not the case at all that you necessarily have to wait to play poker online until your state regulates and “legalizes” it, and in fact just about all Americans can play online poker right now, with the exception of a few states, and we definitely do tell you which states.
Also, after bringing you up to speed on the legality of this in your state, it may be prohibited to various degrees of certainly, but if they have never sought to enforce it against online poker than a lot of players decide that the risk is so low as to not keep them from playing, and in fact this is the case generally. If there are any real problems then this tends to scare away the poker rooms long before poker players have any real need for concern anyway, so if you can play there, it is generally pretty safe to do so.
So feel free to make full use of our site to get yourself more in the know about this very important issue.