Why is it illegal to play online poker in the US?

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Poker is one of the most popular online games in the world. So, why is it not legal to play the game online in the US? The truth is that playing poker online is only actually illegal in Washington state. However, the overall truth is more complicated than that.

As far back as 1961, the Interstate Wire Act made it illegal for people to use wire transfers to gamble online. This law was used by the US Justice Department in 2005, to threaten companies such as Google with legal action, regarding the availability of online gaming advertising. The situation was clarified in 2011, when the Justice Department declared that the Wire Act only applied to online sports betting. So, the legislation did not affect online poker activity.

What about the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed in 2006. This made it illegal for financial institutions to transfer money to online gambling sites. Contrary to what many people believe, this act did not make it illegal to play online poker in the US. But, it did make it a lot more difficult to deposit money at an online casino; a situation which continues to this day.

Can you legally play poker online in the US?

Technically, the acts we have mentioned, do not make it illegal for you to play poker online. In fact, as we stated earlier, only Washington state has specifically made the practice illegal. However, many states have not legalised the playing of online poker. If you want to play the game online, the only states where this is fully legalised and regulated are Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada. There are sportsbooks that can legally accept US players in these states, as well as online casinos. You need to make sure that you play within state lines, as the casinos use geo location, to identify where people are playing from.

What about offshore casinos?

There are offshore online casinos where you can choose to play poker if you wish. The problem is that it’s not legal for these casinos to accept money from people in the US. It’s possible that the casino you play at could be prosecuted. If this happens your money could be seized, as part of the casino’s assets. Obviously, you do not want this to happen. You can see that playing at offshore online casinos can be risky.

Many people enjoy the game of poker, and are trying to get the practice of playing online poker legalised. So far, their efforts have been unsuccessful. This means that there are only three US states where playing poker online is legal, although it has not technically been made illegal elsewhere. The safest option, if you are playing online, is to play from within New Jersey, Delaware or Nevada. Playing at regulated casinos that are licensed in these states means that you have some level of protection, should you encounter any problems with the casino.

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