Legal US Real Money Poker Sites imageLet’s cut to the chase. The unfortunate truth is that most US players are still unable to enjoy the beautiful game of poker for real money.

However, a lot of things occurred since Black Friday, leading to important hearings taking place recently, giving the potential for more thrilling developments to come through in 2017.

So, the question is, what is happening in the three states that have legalized online poker? And what can we expect for other states in 2017?

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How things are today

When the Department of Justice took a backseat on online gambling in 2012, it came as quite a surprise to see Delaware becoming the first state to reinstate online poker. However, the state of Nevada wasn’t far behind. Soon after, New Jersey followed suit and since then the three states are the only three out of 50 where online poker players can play their trade and test their skills for real money.

Online gambling sites powered by 888.com are the only sites currently available in Delaware. The three racinos, known as casinos with a race track, in the state include Harrington Raceway, Dover Downs, and Delaware Park. Each of the racinos has their own downloadable poker app with software that is recognized by any user of 888.com. Currently, WSOP.com is the market leader in Nevada and the Caesars Interactive Entertainment site has also managed to flourish due to its quality offering and recognizable branding with the annual World Series of Poker. However, players will be pleased to know that the 888.com All-American Poker Network (APPN) will also be available in Nevada soon, signing agreements with the Treasure Island Casino and Wynn Casino.

It’s been over a year since the biggest online poker room in the world, PokerStars, returned to the United States. While the site based in the Isle of Man couldn’t obtain a license for Nevada, due to a five-year ban clause imposed on all sites that accepted bets from the United States after the 31st of December 2006, it wasn’t restricted from New Jersey and launched PokerStars NJ on the 21st of March in 2016. On the 21st of February 2018, PokerStars can apply for a Nevada license as well.

New Jersey currently has the most options available for poker players with Borgata Poker, WSOP.com, 888.com, PartyPoker, and PokerStars NJ all available in the garden state. However, the biggest issue is player liquidity as the New Jersey market along isn’t the largest, so we’ll soon see the three legal states synchronize their player pools to sustain the individual markets.

What could take place in 2017?

Pennsylvania

PennsylvaniaThe state of Pennsylvania is likely to legalize online poker sometime this year. A new publication by playpennsylvania.com in February highlighted the substantial annual revenue projections for online poker. Almost half a billion dollars can be realized in tax revenue in just more than five years.

According to the report, also projecting annual revenue for the state of Pennsylvania, states that online gambling will climb from $230 million in 2018 to a staggering $364 million by 2022.

Online poker along is expected to contribute $41 million in annual revenue during 2018 and will decrease to a still healthy $35 million by 2022.

The Senate and Pennsylvania House met during March 2017 for a hearing to extensively discuss the expansion of gambling online. It has taken an extremely long time for this hearing to take place, and yet now is probably the perfect time for the hearing to occur. The state of Pennsylvania is currently anguished from a budget crisis and will likely be searching for new ways to generate revenue. The legalization of online gambling is one way to assist with deflating that crisis.

California

CaliforniaOnline poker in California is another much-talked about U.S state as efforts have been made every single year since 2008 to have a bill passed for online poker, including four that have been introduced during 2015, but unfortunately none of them were able to make it through.

The stakeholders in California include the Native American tribes, and the union-backed horseracing industry that remain divided due to the potential licensing of sites like PokerStars.

According to insiders, a bill ‘requesting the support of two-thirds of legislators’ won’t make it to the governor’s desk without agreement from the sixteen politically powerful tribes.

There are currently 111 federally recognized tribes in the state of California with more than 60 operating land-based casinos that generate around $8 million in gross revenues annually according to onlinepokerreport.com. It looks like in 2017, other forms of online gambling such as e-sports and Daily Fantasy Sports are higher up in the order. However, the California Nations Indian Gaming Association chairman stated that other forms of online betting are formed through poker, so the legalization of online poker might need to be the initial step. That’s quite a long shot to make in 2017, but it can happen over the next few years if agreements could be made.

Michigan

Michigan
Other states to keep a watchful eye on include Michigan.

The Senate Regulatory Reform Committee of Michigan held an online gambling hearing earlier this year, demonstrating how friendly online gambling could be to Michigan casinos.

However, the state now has a history of building up enthusiasm through bill progression, before they gather dust.

What can occur this time round remains to be seen.

New York

New YorkThe state of New York also had reason to be enthusiastic this year, when Gary Pretlow, state assemblyman, provided a positive outlook with regards to online gambling in a recent interview.

The potential for cheating was a previous concern that seems to have been resolved since.

Two identical bills are currently sitting in both the Senate and Assembly, and both need to be passed.

However, it seems highly unlikely that anything will change during 2017.

RAWA and Trump

With the White House having a new president, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) is once again a sizzling topic. This is largely driven by Sheldon Adelson, a casino mogul who is concerned that online gambling will ultimately diminish his enormous profits.

RAWA will legalize all online gambling in the United States, regardless of individual state legislation including New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware. But will Trump go for it? Although Trump has owned several casinos in the past, we are yet to see his stance on online gambling.

Online Poker Before 2017

Playing poker online was something anyone could do pre 2006 as there was no legally imposed set of laws or rules which stated US based players could not log onto a poker site and play any type of poker game or take part in poker tournaments for real money. However, in 2006 the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was passed into law which made it an offense for any banking institution to allow money to be sent to any offshore based poker site.

This has the immediate effect of making it very difficult for anyone living in the US to send money into or even receive funds from a poker site, and many offshore based poker sites simply stopped accepting players based in the US.

However, there were still and still are several poker sites based offshore who still allow and accept US players, but to be able to funds their accounts players using those sites have to circumvent, through one way or another the restrictions of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

In 2013 several US States started to put into place legal frameworks to allow the gaming divisions and commissions based in those States to be able to license, regulate and oversee poker sites based in their jurisdictions, and as such you can now play poker quite legally if you are based within the State boundaries of Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey, if you sign up to a poker sites that has been issued with one of their gaming licenses.

Frequently Asked Questions

We expect you have quite a number of questions if you are living in the US and wish to start playing poker online for real money, and with this in mind below are some commonly asked questions and the associated answers.

  1. What poker games can I play online?
  2. You are going to be able to play poker games such as Omaha Poker and Texas Hold Em Poker online very easily as these are the two most popular poker games available, however it may be worth your while checking out a range of different poker sites and not just limit yourself to playing at one such site, for by checking a few different poker sites out you will find that many of them have lots of additional new and more exotic poker game variants on offer, some of which you may never have played before but may get to enjoy playing.

  3. Are online poker games really fair?
  4. You will be guaranteed of a fair and random set of poker games when playing at legally licensed and available online poker sites that have been awarded and granted a US State gambling license, the actual games themselves, the software used and of course the random number generators are tested and certified as being fair and are regularly monitored and tested.

  5. What stakes do I have to play for?
  6. The stakes at which you are going to be able to play poker online for will vary, as each poker room will have set aside a wide range of poker tables on which various different stake options are available so you will find pot limit games as well as no limit poker games on offer and you will also find plenty of completely free to play poker games and poker tournament son offer if you just wish to get some playing experience under your belt.

  7. Are online poker tournaments available?
  8. Poker tournaments are available to play online, and in fact what you will find that is when playing in some online poker tournaments you will be able to win an entry into a major land based poker tournament. You will find every single type of poker tournament you can think of online including many free roll poker tournaments which can and do offer real money prizes.

  9. Can I play poker games online 24/7?
  10. You will not be limited in regards to just when you can log onto any US licensed poker site to play, for they are open 24 hours a day seven days a week. There are of course certain times of the day and night when online poker sites are at their busiest however whenever you do decide to log onto play you will find more than enough players for you to take on and play against.

  11. How old do I have to be to play poker online?
  12. To be able to legally play poker online in the US you have to be over the age of 21, any person under the age of 21 is not allowed by law to gamble online. When you sign up to any site you are going to be subject to an age verification process, this can often be done automatically but if the site is unable to verify your age you will be requested to send in some form of identification documents to prove your age. Your account may be locked until such a time that you send in age verification documents as requested

  13. Can I play free poker games online?
  14. If you simply want to see what playing poker online is like or wish to get some experience under your belt then all US licensed and regulated online poker sites are going to permit and allow you to log into their respective sites and play their free play poker games, in addition to those free to play game you can often find as a newly registered player at some sites you will be invited to take part in some free roll poker tournaments offering lots of cash prizes.

  15. Will I earn comps playing poker online?
  16. Poker comps are given away to online players, and as such before you simply rush to start playing at the very first licensed US poker site you come across do take a little time comparing the comps on offer at each site, for when you couple the poker comps with the promotional offers and bonuses available at certain poker site you will find some offer you the maximum playing value.

  17. Are freeroll poker tournaments available online?
  18. As mentioned above you will find free play poker games offered at all licensed US online poker sites and many free to enter poker tournaments are always regularly held, new players do then to often get invited to take part in a specially set aside set of free roll poker tournaments so when you sign up to any site check out whether you qualify for those free rolls.

  19. What poker bonuses are available to me online?
  20. There will be a couple of fairly standard types of poker site bonuses that will be available to you when you sign up to any licensed US based online poker site. Some sites have started to give out completely free of charge poker bonuses and as such all you need to claim them is to register as a new player and those free playing credits will then be added to your newly opened account. However, many poker sites will offer you a bonus which will be a percentage of your initial deposited amount the value of these type of bonuses can vary from poker site to poker site so be prepared to shop around for the very best deals.

Legal US Licensing Jurisdictions

There are currently two licensing commissions who can and do issue legally recognised gaming licenses to online poker sites, there are in fact now three US States in which you can play poker legally online, and for more information simply keep on reading!

  • New Jersey Casino Control Commission – You will have no problems what so ever playing poker online legally and for real money if you live in New Jersey or Delaware as long as you play at a site holding a New Jersey Casino Control Commission online gaming license.
  • Nevada Gaming Commission – One other gambling jurisdiction that is now able to legally issue online gambling licensed is Nevada, any company based in Nevada who wishes to provide real money online poker games can apply for one of these licenses, and any player using one of those site is fully protected and assured of a safe and secure gaming environment.

Not Legally Recognised Gambling Jurisdictions

Be aware that there are several online poker sites that are not licensed in the US but still allow and accept players to sign up and start to play poker for real money at their respective sites, you will find that the vast majority of these poker sites are based in one of the two following countries.

  • Government of Curacao – Anyone wishing to open up an online poker site can simply pay to obtain a very easy to be issued with Government of Curacao business license, this is not a gambling license as such and simply allows a company to trade in Curacao.
  • Antigua Directorate of Offshore Gambling – Antigua have been licensing online gambling sites for many years now, however the number of sites they now oversee has been declining in number due to many countries of the world, including America not legally recognising those poker sites or their gaming licenses