If you’re located in the United States, you have the chance to access some fantastic poker games from the comfort of your own home or while on the go. Cash games and tournaments on these sites offer up thrills and excitement, as you vie for the chance to win amazing prizes while claiming very generous bonuses from the site operator.
At the best US poker sites, you know that you’re being take care of well with tough security measures that keep your personal details safe. You’ll be able to conduct your banking securely with plenty of convenient banking methods that allow you to make deposits in USD, without having to worry about converting your cash. All-in-all, you’re in for a great online gaming experience at American online poker rooms.
Legalized Online Poker in America
In 2018, Pennsylvania became the fourth state to legalize and regulate online poker. With the legislative development came the opportunity for players to safely engage in poker games using their tablets, smartphones and PCs.
Remember the Rules
Each state has different rules when it comes to playing at US poker sites, but the general gist tends to be the same. As a player in Pennsylvania, you’ll have to adhere to these rules.
Firstly, you have to be of the legal gambling age. In Pennsylvania, you have to be 21 to gamble in casinos – and, the same applies to online poker sites. You’ll be required to submit documents that prove you are the correct age to be gambling online. These must be presented before you can make a withdrawal, so it’s important to have these documents handy to speed up the process.
Next, you have to be located within Pennsylvania. All licensed poker rooms in America are equipped with sophisticated geolocation technology which knows where you’re logging from. So, even if you’re a Pennsylvania resident officially, you cannot play if you are outside of state lines.
Safely and Securely Fund Your Account in USD
Before you have the chance to legally play at the best US poker sites, American players would have to play games at offshore sites. Since these sites are based overseas, there wasn’t always the opportunity for players play using American dollars.
Now, you can conduct your deposits and withdrawals using USD without having to worry about conversion rates. This can sometimes cost you money in the long run, as you’re converting money back and forth. When banking in USD, you can use debit cards, credits, bank transfers and e-wallets.
At regulated online poker sites in America, you’ll be able to instantly deposit to your account using and there are usually no fees involved. Your deposits often come with reload bonuses, as well, offering you a 25% to 50% match. You can also claim preferred deposit bonuses, which offer you a 10% or 20% when using certain banking methods like Neteller or Skrill.
With withdrawals, there is a different story. A fee is usually incurred, depending on your withdrawal method – with the exception of bitcoin. The top poker rooms in America aim to process your withdrawals in 24 hours, but you should be prepared for them to take up to 7 days if you’re banking using bank transfers.
Generous Bonuses You Can Claim at US Poker Rooms
There are plenty of great bonuses that you can take advantage of while playing at online poker sites. Many different opportunities are available to provide you with extra money in your account and make your online poker experience that much more satisfying. These are just a few of the bonuses that you can claim at the best US poker sites.
- No Deposit Bonuses: A no deposit bonus is often available to brand-new players, after registering and verifying their accounts. You don’t have to spend any money, and you’ll receive $5 or $10 to use however you like.
- Welcome Bonus: On your first deposit, you’ll be awarded with a 100% or 200% match, and receive free tournament tickets to get you started.
- Reloads: The operator will provide you with a 25% to 50% match on deposits on certain days of the week.
- Rakeback: As part of some promotions, the poker room operator will offer you rakeback when you have deposited a certain amount of cash.
- VIP Programs: At most US poker sites, you’ll be able to take part in a loyalty or VIP program, warning points every time you play. Your points can then be redeemed for cash and tournament tickets and, as you climb the levels of the programs, you can get access to exclusive promotions.
- Missions and Achievements: Some online casinos will also award you with points for completing certain tasks. These “missions” sometimes include making a deposit using a particular method, playing a certain number of hands or taking part in a particular tournament.
Access a Large Selection of Cash Games and Tournaments
When you play poker at US sites, you’ll be able to play in all sorts of fun games. Both cash games and tournaments are available in abundance, and plenty of variations are available that cater to different types of players.
When it comes to cash games, you’ll mostly have access to Texas Hold’em and Omaha variants. Fast-fold poker games are also very popular, which allow you to multiply your hands-per-hour and potentially accumulate prizes very quickly. At a select few sites, more niche titles like Stud and Razz are available, but these are often limited to offshore poker websites.
Tournaments tend to be much more varied at US poker sites. You’ll have access to sit n gos and guaranteed tournaments, as well as freerolls and satellites. Many other fun variations are available, like bounty tournaments, turbos and rebuys – which add an extra layer excitement to the competition.
Software Options at the US Poker Rooms
You have a wide range of options when it comes to playing at American online poker sites. Whether you prefer to play on your desktop computer or mobile device, you’ll be able to safely and easily access cash games and tournaments.
Online poker sites provide you with desktop software that feature the full selection of tournaments. You can access all sorts of great cash games and tournaments, while being able to multi-table. These suites are never usually more than 50mb downloads, and often take less than 10 minutes to install.
The best US poker sites will provide you with the chance to play from your mobile device. While mobile apps are often available, the more popular option is for players to use mobile-optimized websites to play poker on smartphones and tablets.
While you experience the benefit playing poker while on the go, the abilities are somewhat limited. You can’t usually choose which table you’d like to sit at, and there’s no capability for multi-tabling.
Keeping You Safe While Playing Poker Online
When playing at US poker sites that are licensed by local gaming authorities, you can play in thrilling cash games and tournaments in a safe environment. Safe gaming protocols are in place that allow you to have peace of mind, especially when you’re sending money online.
SSL encryption is in place, which prevents any third parties from accessing your personal information. When you’re submitting your credit card details and address, there’s no way for anyone else to get hold of this data.
Where Else is Online Poker Legal?
Currently, there are five states where operators can legally offer their gaming services to local players. Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey and West Virginia are the other states where you can play at licensed online poker websites. Since geolocation technology is used at legal poker sites in America, you can only play online when you’re located in one of these states.
What If I’m Located in a Non-Regulated State?
Even if you’re from a state where online poker is legal, if you’re travelling across America and are currently in a non-regulated state, you won’t be able to access your usual gaming site. You’ll have to play an offshore online poker which can sometimes be risky.
These sites are usually regulated by authorities in locations like the UK, Malta, Gibraltar and Curacao, but they haven’t obtained licenses from local state gaming commissions. As a result, the sites still strive to protect players, but it is still generally advised that you stick to regulated sites that have been vetted by local authorities.
Legal US Poker States
The legality of online poker, as played in the United States, isn’t an entirely straightforward issue. Rather, it is one of those things that is known as a ‘gray area’ in the law. This article will help to address the questions, “is online poker legal in the USA?” and, “where is online poker legal?”.
In many states, it is illegal to host a site that has people staking genuine money on poker games. Likewise, it is also illegal in most of those states to promote or profit off such sites. However, the vast majority of states do not prescribe any penalties for people who actually play online poker. Therefore, what many users do is play on offshore sites – sites hosted in other countries, where they are legally allowed to be hosted.
Four states are currently considered legal online poker states. These are Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, and most recently, Pennsylvania. Presently, such sites only accept people from within the state, but this is expected to change at some point in 2018 to allow US players to pool together, with Pennsylvania required to ‘catch up’ in this agreement.
Many are surely hoping that this multi-state player agreement will come in time for the World Series of Online Poker tournament in June 2018.
Legal Online Poker in the USA – Where Is Online Poker Legal?
Is online poker legal in the USA? If you want to play online poker in the USA, then first you need to know what your state’s laws are.
If you are currently, as of January 3rd, 2018, located in Nevada, New Jersey, or Delaware, and over the age of 21, you can sign on to an online poker site registered in your own state, while supporting an American company and being sure that you are doing the legal and right thing by paying the state-prescribed taxes and contributing to the local economy. Doing it this way will also allow you to have recourse for any disputes that may arise as a result of gambling.
If it is a state-recognized gambling site, then you know for sure that the site will keep your banking details safe, will offer fair odds, and will have to comply with the law. If you are in Delaware, there is only one online poker site specifically registered in-state, but you will soon be allowed to join Nevada-based sites when the multi-state agreement is finalized.
If you are located in Pennsylvania, you won’t have long to wait before such sites are available in your own state, too. While opinions differ as to when online poker in Pennsylvania will actually be ready, and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has a number of changes to implement in 2018 that will keep its staff busy, it is likely that online poker in Pennsylvania should be ready at some point in the second half of 2018.
If you are located in any other state, you don’t currently have the option to contribute to your state’s economy directly through gambling. However, it is most likely the case that you would like the same assurances as any poker player might want from a casino: that the odds of each of the virtual cards coming up are statistically fair, that the payment system is transparent and honest, that your bank card details are kept secure and never misused, and that there is no way for any of the gamblers to cheat.
Similarly, you may also want the opportunity to choose games that have decent bonuses on credit deposits, and to pay a fairly low drop on each hand. In other words, you wouldn’t want to be restricted to sites that ‘stack the cards against you’ by design.
Finally, if you are the kind of poker player who likes to play to maximize earnings rather than play for fun, you may want to select a poker site that isn’t known for its professional players, or one that keeps players anonymous to prevent professionals from harvesting data about individual players, or one that prevents players from playing in a large number of rooms at once, which would make professional players much more numerous across the network than amateur players.
If, on the other hand, you are one of the players who is new to the game, we recommend not playing too many hands at a time, don’t overvalue your hand, and remember to change your play-style every now and then, among other tips.
In order to do this, you will need to choose from a list of poker sites that are verified and have good reviews left from their users. Do some online research about the site before joining, and talk to other people who have used the site. Ask them if payments are completed on time, if they have ever felt cheated, and similar questions. Over time, it is only logical that the best sites will ‘rise to the top’ because online poker rooms that have the best reputation will attract the highest number of players.
Three very highly rated offshore poker sites worth recommending are Bovada, Ignition, and BetOnline. The former two are illegal in New York, Maryland and Washington, so don’t risk playing on either site if you are located there. However, BetOnline is presently legal in all states. Always be sure to check that you are not breaking the law before you play poker online.
All three of these recommended sites have controls and packages that prevent professionals from completely dominating the scene, because this would discourage newer players. Also, all three have bonuses and offer tournament play from time to time.
What Are the US Online Poker Laws at the Federal and State Levels?
Currently, there is no federal ban on users creating accounts and playing online poker for money, and for now, it is reasonable to imagine that there won’t be such a ban any time soon.
If such a ban were instituted, there would be protests from at least the four states that have legalized it, which would end up costing a lot of money and taking a long time. There was a higher risk of such a ban being instituted in the past, but that risk is currently low, because online poker is gaining acceptance across states.
In 1961, the federal government passed its first major law about gambling, called the Wire Act. It made it illegal to use electronic transmission to facilitate sports wagering across state lines. In 2011, the Department of Justice decided to specify that the law did not apply to games that were not sporting events. This meant that laws pertaining to online gambling not involving sports betting were from then up to individual states to regulate.
In 2006, in an act pertaining to Internet port security, a bill called UIGEA was signed. It disallowed gambling companies from accepting transactions for the purpose of online wagering, and financial institutions were required to block such transactions, but players themselves were not subject to prosecution. In 2009 there was an attempt to regulate online gambling federally so it wouldn’t be stopped by the UIGEA, but this attempt was not successful.
In April 2011, there was a huge push by the Department of Justice to indict owners of websites that hosted online gambling, under the UIGEA. Four large US-based online poker sites were implicated, and forced to close down. Many users lost all the money in their online wallets, although some of it has since been returned through fines to one of the companies, to at least 57,180 users so far. Some of the reimbursements are still being processed to this day.
The most well-known name in the push to prevent online gambling is Sands Corporation’s Sheldon Adelson, who has a history of spending huge amounts of money to try to make it illegal again. In 2014, he formed the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, which tried to push for a bill called the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, which would have changed the federal government’s Wire Act to stop legal online poker in the USA, as well as other online gambling games. So far, all attempts to do so have failed.
Meanwhile, at the state level, many changes have occurred in the last seven years. 2011 was the year that many states took notice of the change in the Wire Act, which meant that it was up to them to regulate online gambling. Nevada and New Jersey were two states to take quick action.
Nevada was the first to create a bill to legalize online gambling, and New Jersey was very close behind. Eventually, Nevada had legalized online gambling by February 2013, continuing Nevada’s reputation as a trailblazer in gambling. New Jersey followed in November 2013, and Delaware signed an agreement with Nevada in February 2014. Most recently, Pennsylvania has legalized and made provisions for online gambling as of October 2017.
Despite all these positive changes to laws, it is not especially easy to join an in-state poker game just yet, unless you are in Nevada, which is known as the top gambling state in the US, or New Jersey.
Which States Are on the Way to Legalizing Online Poker Next?
As mentioned, there are currently four online poker states. Taking everything into consideration, many believe that at least two more states will join this count in 2018. The states most likely to come on board in the near future include New York, Michigan and California. Let us examine what is happening in each of these states.
The first bill that attempted to legalize online gambling in New York was put forward in 2014. Another bill was put forward in 2016, but it was not supported by the Assembly, for reasons of uncertainty whether poker constitutes a game of skill, and concerns over online site security and methods of possible cheating.
Legislation has recently surpassed the introductory phase. Assemblyman Pretlow intends to continue supporting online gambling legislation in New York in 2018, and so does Senator John Bonacic.
If you support the passage of legal online gambling in New York, contact your senators and representatives to let them know.
In the last two years, there has been positive progress regarding online gambling in the state. One key difficulty, though, is in reaching agreement between tribal gambling and state gambling stakeholders.
Senator Mike Kowall introduced Senate Bill 889 to attempt to bring legal online gambling to Michigan in 2016, and it made some progress in the Senate, but never reached a full vote. There hasn’t seemed to be major interest in online gambling from existing large casinos in the state so far.
SB 889 would have charged a $200,000 licensing fee and $100,000 yearly thereafter. There are currently three commercial and twenty tribal casinos in Michigan, so many licenses would need to be made available. If the tax rate were set at 10 percent of revenue, this could potentially bring in $14 million per year, as well as the licensing fees.
However, considering the growth of online poker in New Jersey, there is a possibility that even this could be a pessimistic forecast. The state is in need of the money, so we may see some positive news for Michigan online gambling yet.
There has been interest and support for online gambling from people since as early as 2008, but so far, not much progress has been made. There are many tribal gambling casinos, close to a hundred licensed card rooms, and there is a sizeable horseracing industry. So far, these stakeholders seem to be against online gambling, and have taken steps to prevent bills from advancing too far in the legislature.
There was an attempt in February 2017 by Assembly-member Jones-Sawyer in support of legalizing online poker, or at least to begin a conversation about doing so. Assembly Bill 1677 would prevent racetrack owners from gaining licenses, but instead grant them a stipend of up to $60 million per year.
Licensing fees would be $12.5 million for a seven-year period, and taxation on revenue would be variable based on the amount of revenue, ranging from 8.85 percent to 15 percent. However, the difficulty involved in getting all the larger stakeholders to agree has thus far stymied efforts at bringing legal online poker to California.