USA Poker Gambling Laws

It is legal to play poker in the United States if you use the right websites or go to the right gambling facilities. Poker play in the US varies widely depending on the state you are in and the various tribal agreements that may or may not be in effect, but international online poker sites are available in all 50 states, so there’s no issue with finding ways to play poker online.

Laws regarding gambling in the US, including those regarding internet poker in the US tend to be related to the providers of internet poker, not the users of it. There are some states that have regulations that prohibit the use of online poker sites, but these are sparsely enforced. For the most part, states do not have laws against playing online poker, so you should be good to go if you can find somewhere to play.


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Bovada offers online poker in many forms. Games available at Bovada include Texas Hold'em, Omaha, 7-Card Stud, Americana, 5-Card Stud, and more. Bovada also offers video poker gameplay. Live poker at Bovada is accentuated by their excellent poker bonuses, which range from matching deposits to perks and freebies. Bovada offers cash tournaments as well as sit-and-go gameplay, making it a great poker site for all types of poker players. Most importantly, you can use Bovada under US gambling law.

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The History Of Online Poker In The US

Using an international website to offer poker play to US players was a common practice in the early 2000s. This saw the rise of websites like Bodog, PartyPoker and PacificPoker, as well as casino magnates like Bwin. These websites offered poker play to players in the US until many of them were shut down on what is known as Black Friday. Since that moment, there have been far less companies willing to risk bringing poker to the US, but plenty of them still exist.

What Is Black Friday?

Black Friday occurred on April 15, 2011. The event refers to the seizure and closure of three major online poker websites: PokerStars, Absolute Poker and Full Tilt Poker. Of those three sites, PokerStars has easily recovered the best – they’re still a market force, even after Black Friday. The name itself refers to the stock market crash of 1929, an event that precipitated the Great Depression. This name refers to how damaging the event was to the image of online poker and the ability of players in the US to access it.

The UIGEA And Poker

The UIGEA is the Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act. It was passed in 2006. The act prohibits businesses from accepting payments related to online gambling. Notably, it does not prohibit the act of online gambling. This bill also does not explicitly mention online poker, although some interpretations include online poker under the definition of online gambling.

The IGBA And Poker

The Illegal Gambling Business Act is another act targeted at those who run online gambling businesses. This act defines online gambling via state laws, meaning that gambling is anything that a state does not explicitly allow. It also specifically refers to groups of people operating those businesses, and does not mention online poker.

The Wire Act

The Wire Act, originally enacted in 1961, prevents players from using wire communication devices to gamble at various gambling parlors. This law was enacted to target wire transfers back in the days before the internet and cryptocurrency. The Wire Act relies in the authority of congress to regulate interstate commerce, but some argue it does not apply to international commerce.

The Legality Of The World Series Of Poker

The World Series of Poker takes place in Nevada, which is famously a hub for gambling, historically. It can operate thanks to Nevada’s lax laws on gambling, which includes poker. Nevada allows many forms of gambling, and one of those allowed aspects is poker. The World Series Of Poker also hosts events in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, two other states that have carved out space in their regulations for poker to be allowed.

The Legality Of International Poker

International Poker is a sort of de-facto legal process – it’s not explicitly allowed, but it’s also not explicitly outlawed in most states. This means that playing poker online with an international website is something that is generally regarded as safe to do. You do theoretically run the risk of another Black Friday, but intriguingly, Black Friday remains the first and only action of its type, as gambling has become more and more accepted.