Is online poker legal in the USA?
One of the most asked questions we receive is: Can you play online poker in the US? In a word: Yes.
No American citizen pre-UIGEA or since its passage has been charged with a crime for gambling online. Similar to laws on bookmaking, the bookie who takes the bets from players is liable to prosecution, not the individual bettor who decides to bet on a sporting event.
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act
After several attempts to criminalize internet gambling operators through legislation, Congress attached a provision onto a SAFE Port Act which regulated port security. The legislation was called the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) and was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 13th, 2006.
The UIGEA does not criminalize online poker players or the act of gambling online, but instead goes after gambling site operators and payment processors that process online gambling transactions.
The passage of the UIGEA quickly eliminated some of the larger online poker rooms from the US market. Many companies, such as Party Gaming, are publicly traded. Since their shareholders could be charged criminally for crimes committed by the company, they immediately withdrew from the US market. The law changed the online poker landscape and gave more power to rooms that stayed in the US market.
With that said, poker sites today have to be more careful than ever with their payment processing and financial transactions as many are facing legal threats from the US government. We’d like to point out that you should take this as legal advice and if you are interested in learning more about if online poker is legal in your state, please consult a lawyer.
Several legislators believe online poker in the United States is illegal and many other players think it is entirely legal. The 100% truth is in fact online poker is a grey area and has more to do with what state you are currently living in than anything else.
This is why several US online poker rooms don’t provide access to players living in some states over others.