Online Poker for US Players

Online Poker is a very popular online past time that has only continued to grow in popularity over the years. There are many choices now for players to pick from, ranging from casinos that offer poker tables, to dedicated poker rooms. With such a variety it can be intimidating for players to navigate. On top of this, understanding online gambling laws in the US can be difficult. So in the end, how do players know that online poker is legal? Then how do they find a trustworthy site and deposit?

U.S gamblers playing poker online face difficulties players in other countries don't. The legality of online poker in the U.S. can be murky, because the United States has so many jurisdictions. Americans love checks and balances and decentralized government, so we have a patchwork of state, local, and federal agencies which claim authority over your gambling activities.

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Best US Poker Sites in 2016

  • #
  • Poker Room Name
  • Mac OS
  • Deposit Bonus
  • Room Info
  • Join / Review
  • 1
  • BetOnline Poker
  • USA
  • Bonus of $900
  • Accepts players from all US states!

    Poker room loaded with fish

  • Review
  • 2
  • Carbon Poker
  • USA
  • Bonus of $1100
  • Provides a great VIP program with cash back

    Accepts USA credit cards

  • Review
  • 3
  • Sportsbetting Poker
  • Bonus of $900
  • Instant cash bonuses on deposits

    Accepts US Visa, M/C, Amex

  • Review

Online Poker is a very popular online past time that has only continued to grow in popularity over the years. There are many choices now for players to pick from, ranging from casinos that offer poker tables, to dedicated poker rooms. With such a variety it can be intimidating for players to navigate. On top of this, understanding online gambling laws in the US can be difficult. So in the end, how do players know that online poker is legal? Then how do they find a trustworthy site and deposit?

Is playing poker online legal in the US?

Technically yes, online gambling is legal in the US. There are no federal laws that ban gambling, online or otherwise. However there are a number of laws in place in an attempt to minimize money laundering and racketeering. Every state controls their own laws regarding gambling. Every state has different laws on the different forms of gambling. Bingo, Slot machines, Table games, Parimutuel betting and even Lotteries are all treated differently. There is also a separate category for Native casinos- and states can decide what types of gambling are allowed at these casinos as well.

Utah is one example of a state that disallows nearly all forms of gambling. The only states that currently have laws banning online gambling are IL, IN, LA, MO, NV, OR, SD, WA and WI. However, local laws change regularly, especially with the fast moving online gambling market.

For example, there has been rumors about Nevada allowing online poker rooms soon. Speculation on the reason why so many states are against online gambling is the difficulty in collecting owed income taxes as many people do not claim their winnings like they're supposed to.

Best Poker Deposit Methods for United States Players

The one big impact the UIGEA has had on online gaming is making depositing for US players more difficult. The restriction on banking institutions mean that many banking institutions will not support American players depositing to known gambling institutions. This makes finding a US poker site difficult at times.

For example, Paypal is a popular method to fund poker room accounts, but is not available to US accounts. Many services will also hold in their fine print a notice that says American accounts using their service to fund gambling accounts risk having their accounts deleted.

The most popular method to fund poker accounts is credit cards, but they sometimes won't go through. They're a great first choice, simple and convenient. Online banking is generally not available to American players. However there are a number of ewallet options that widen the options available.

There are also services such as Moneygram and Western Union. Regardless of the methods offered by different poker rooms, players should always ensure that there is not only a convenient deposit method, but also a withdrawal method available as well.

Legality of Poker in US

That means a poker player should know about federal laws involving online gaming, but this same player also wants to know what their state laws allows. States like Utah and Hawaii allow no form of legal gambling to take place in their state at all. A state like Nevada allows all sorts of brick-and-mortar gambling, but tries to outlaw Internet gaming to protect their own live casino industry. Most U.S. states may frown on online poker, but don't have the resources to even consider enforcing laws against them. The way all these authorities try to get at gaming interests is through the flow of money, so I want to focus on that aspect of your electronic gambling hobby.

No state or federal legal authority is going to bring charges against an American gambler placing bets on poker in the privacy of their own home. This doesn't mean online poker has no risks, so let me spell those out for you. The card room hosting your gambling activities might be targeted by authorities, while the money transfer service or web wallet which handles transactions between this site and you might be targeted. The biggest risk is a money risk--that one of these sites is going to be shut down and your account's money seized as evidence in a legal case. In most cases in the past, money would be frozen for a time, then returned to the player in a matter of weeks or months. That's never totally 100% certain, though.

Another risk you might face is an untrustworthy online casino runs an untrustworthy game or won't pay you back your winnings. This is fairly rare, because the online gambling industry polices itself with organizations like eCogra and GameSafe. When you find the seal of approval for these organizations, you'll know a site is safe to play. The problem with engaging in an activity that the authorities frown upon is that you give up the right to go to those authorities for legal redress when you have an issue. Luckily, the Internet allows you to research sites to know whether they're trustworthy or not. Internet gamblers who've been wronged are usually loud and boisterous about their bad experiences. The biggest concern you should have is losing your bank roll, but being prosecuted for illegal gambling in the USA is usually reserved for the organizers--not the gamblers themselves.

What is the UIGEA?

The UIGEA is why many people believe that online gambling and online poker is illegal. However while the UIGEA is a federal law, it is enforced at a state level. If the UIGEA doesn't make gambling illegal, then what was the point of the law?

The major problem with the UIGEA is that it is very vague. It has also been proven highly ineffective as it does not ban online gambling. The only thing this law restricts is disallowing banking institutions to send money to known gambling establishments. Changes have been proposed to the UIGEA that may alter this, so US poker players may want to keep an eye on their local gaming laws.

How to find a good poker site

There are so many online poker sites, it can be difficult to choose one. There's also many online poker sites that do not cater to US poker players because of the constant change of gambling laws in the US. So how do you find a good poker site?

The obvious first step for an American player is to limit your list to casinos who are friendly to US players. But that still leaves quite a list! Different online websites will offer different experiences. There are websites dedicated solely to higher stakes poker tables, focused only on the poker experience. These sites typically have better quality players, from sharks to professionals.

However, most beginner players will prefer poker rooms with more fish, or new players. Players should be honest about their skill level, as well as their preferences. New players are better off in a more casual environment where they can enjoy the learning process and build their skills instead of simply bleeding money to the sharks on a poker room that caters to the professionals. Casual poker players who have no plans or desire to play the high stakes games typically enjoy the casino style sites that not only offer poker tables, but other casino games such as slots and bingo as well.