Many players have questions about the legality of online poker and online poker sites. This is only natural given all of the confusion we have seen coming out of the US legal system regarding poker online. Legal approval is certainly something that you want before committing your hard earned real cash to any of the online poker rooms.
Another aspect to the legalities involved with playing at many poker rooms is how the laws apply to international players. Does it really matter which sites are chosen if such a player resides outside of certain countries? Although these issues do get a bit thorny, we will help you unravel them and show you how to play poker online legally. By the time you finish this legal guide to online poker sites, you will understand:
OUR TOP 5 PICKS FOR 2018
For those looking to play at various online poker sites, you might as well find legal poker sites. Although it’s true that there has never been a single instance of anyone in the US being prosecuted for playing at online poker rooms, even when using illegal sites, why take the risk?
One of the problems with choosing poker sites outside the law is the fact that should there ever arise any type of dispute, you will basically have no recourse or legal protection. Additionally, many illegal websites understand their status and capitalize on this fact, by operating without licenses from any legitimate operating or international gambling authorities. They might be playing games with your real money, taking your deposits and funneling them into some untraceable offshore account, then refusing to pay out when you have racked up sizable winnings from your chosen poker rooms.
One of the best ways the top websites are regulated is through the use and issuance of gambling licenses. There are a number of legitimate authorities throughout the world that offer this level of protection. Licenses of this nature are usually granted directly by the government of specific nations. You will find a number of licenses belonging to countries in the Caribbean and Central America, who were the first group to really accept the fact that online gambling and poker rooms were the wave of the future.
While it is perfectly legal to play at online poker sites regulated under the purview of such countries, governments and licenses (and there are others, many of the best UK websites use Guernsey and Alderney as their go to countries), you do need to have a certain amount of trust for the authority backing them up. Always think about what you might do should the need arise for you to make a claim. In other words, know what the process is and how it will work. Fortunately, most poker sites do provide a lot of this information in their fine print and terms sections, especially the legal poker sites.
Then are also a number of gambling oversight bodies and groups designed to help ensure the play of these online poker rooms is kept fair. A great example of one of these is a group call eCOGRA. The acronym stands for the eCommerce Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance group, which is a London based company which helps add a measure of safety and testing standards to poker sites. Legal websites should have no problem affiliating themselves with this group, which has been in operation since 2003. Any website to display the eCOGRA seal undergoes an annual on-site compliance review as well as continuous monitoring.
Standards used and enforced by this group are pretty strong. This is why virtually all of the top and best websites from 2018 and beyond do indeed subscribe to this service. It is a great sign of player protection, safety, and legality. Our strong advice to you is to never consider any online poker rooms which do not carry this seal. They even check to make sure the online poker site has a functioning random number generator as well as assurances that all player data and information is stored securely.
Despite all the roadblocks and confusion regarding online poker in the US, there is no reason for American players to not get the very best services in a legal environment. The great news is that we found the ideal online poker sites that not only are available to US customers, but they also meet our high standards and we want to tell you a bit more about it.
You can see that all our best online poker rooms have some things in common. They provide real cash play to US residents, they are proven fair and have the eCOGRA seal of approval, they are leading brands in 2016, they have soft competition and they offer a starting bonus to every new player.
This is no simple coincidence as we have done all the research needed to find the best in the business. We should also mention that the international online poker sites have great communities of players and it is possible to find active tables at any time across the full range of poker versions.
The only thing that remains to do now is just choose one of the online poker rooms and get started. We of course recommended the top rated one but all of them are impressive in their own ways.
You have probably heard about a number of legal initiatives in the USA aimed at shutting down online poker sites and gambling operators. The hard truth of the matter is that even during all of this craziness, online poker was never deemed to be illegal for the average US resident. It was more of an issue with the money transfer aspect of the gaming. This fine point was lost on many people as a number of the top websites offering real money games decided to shut down US operations.
As far as the specific legal status of online poker rooms in the US, the various states break down into several categories. First, you have those states with very much of a grey area, where online poker is neither legal nor illegal.
These states include:
Then, there are other places where the law simply restricts poker rooms from setting up physical operations. This includes: Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, and Wisconsin. Yes, there is some overlap here (part of why the law is so vague in some states). There is really no state that has formally declared playing at online poker sites to be illegal.
Having swatted up on the legality of US online poker sites in 2018, why not have a look at our list of recommended poker sites for American players.