Last Updated on May 1, 2023 by Umer Malik
The online gambling market in the United States is a vast industry, and poker is one of the games people love in the country. However, due to individual state laws in the country, poker online for real money is not legal in many states, even though gambling is legal according to federal regulations. States in the country have some policies to enforce the rules, and some of them have made player identification and geolocation a priority for every citizen.
Poker is no doubt one of the most played card games. It’s a game of skill and a bit of luck where you wager on cards you’re dealt against other players also betting on their hands. The people of the United States love the game. However, to play the game in New York, a gambler would have to use an offshore website since New York State online poker sites are illegal.
Surprisingly, some states allow other casino games, but online poker. And in this article, we’ll be highlighting the states that have made online poker for real money illegal. Before that, we will highlight why some states’ laws for online gambling, e.g., online poker, differ from the laws guiding other types of online gambling.
Why are the Laws Governing Online Poker Different from Other Forms of Gambling?
The US state laws governing online poker differ from other internet gambling types. Why is it this way? The legislation passed a piece called The Wired Act in 1961, and its goal was to prevent criminal organizations from monitoring all bets made over wire communication.
Also, it is known that the legislators tend to give more support to games of skill than games perceived to be won by luck or chance. For that reason, many games perceived as skilled-based have been legalized while those thought to be luck-based are not. That said, each state perceives poker differently, which is why it’s illegal in some states and legal in others.
Six States Online Poker for Real Money is Illegal
The following are a few states in the US where the playing of poker for real money online is frowned at:
1. New York
Even though New York has a long history of underground card rooms where some great poker players emerged, the state has few legal options regarding online poker games. Gamblers in New York are currently out of luck, as they can’t play internet poker in the state unless they drive to another state or use offshore sites.
Since commercial casinos were legalized, lawmakers have been trying to get the online gambling bill to the state legislature, but they have been unsuccessful. Any hope for online card game legalization in the state lies in Bill S00018, which could allow poker to be regarded as a game of skill and then legalized.
Land-based casinos are legal in Washington, but that’s not the case for online poker. In fact, the state law specifically refers to playing online poker as a crime and felony after a senator sponsored a bill signed by the then-Governor.
However, in 2008, an attorney took the case and sued the state over the online poker law, but that didn’t change the state’s stance. Also, new bills were sponsored again to overturn the law, but they never made it through the legislature.
In Massachusetts, the gambling market is considered to be in its early stage. Even though horse and dog race bets have been going around for almost a century, the reverse is the case for casinos.
Massachusetts’ first casino was legalized in 2011; however, commercial casinos have just been in operation for over two years. So it’s not a surprise seeing that online poker isn’t legalized yet in the state.
Georgia residents are out of luck if they want to play internet poker for real money in the state. Also, any type of online gambling apart from charity events and bingo is against the laws in Georgia.
The state enforces the law strictly, and residents can only play poker in social casinos where they don’t play for real money. Players can only access the game on offshore sites.
Hawaii is known for many things, but not for gambling. Currently, there is no state lottery, horse or dog racing, sports betting, charitable gambling, and of course, online poker gambling. In fact, it doesn’t seem like the state will change its stance anytime soon.
Currently, there are no legal online poker sites in Ohio, and there are no active bills in place to legalize poker for real money in the state. It might take a while before any other gambling is legalized until sports betting launches in the state in January 2023.
Even though the United States is one of the countries that have the largest gambling market, some states are still yet to open their borders to online poker for real money.
However, the current expectations are that as soon as poker is viewed as a game of skill, many states will reassess their stance and give the green light to permit their citizens to play the thrilling casino game. Until then, players in the states above can enjoy poker in a land-based casino or sign up with oversea sites to play online.