Your #1 Guide To Playing Legal Online Poker In The USA

Shortly after the poker boom started around 2003, online poker absolutely exploded in the United States. An incredible number of people played in the games, and there was a clear demand being met for hundreds of thousands of players. However, after a number of unclear and difficult to understand legal challenges, a lot of players were left thinking that playing was illegal, and that cut off tons of people from being able to enjoy the games. This is only one of many misconceptions that a ton of online poker players in the United States have right now, and it's not really the fault of the players.

The legal environment in the United States is very unclear, in particular because of the overlap between state and federal laws, and with sensationalized news stories that have sacrificed the truth of the matter for headlines that talk about online gambling being allegedly illegal in the United States. It's clearly not the fault of US players that there is such a huge misunderstanding of how online poker works these days, and the goal of this guide is to make it clear and easy to see exactly what's going on and how you can log on and play.

Online poker is completely legal in the United States. 3 US states offer state regulated online poker options with many more moving towards legalizing poker. It's important to note that there are no laws that make it illegal to play online poker at an offshore site. So if you don't live in one of the three states that has legalized online poker yet, you won't be breaking any laws if you play at an offshore site.

Legal Online Poker Sites For U.S. Players

The following are the top online poker rooms for US players. Most of the offshore sites accept players from all 50 states, while one of them only accept players if they live in one of the three states that has legalized online poker. Each of the sites listed below are very reputable and pay out players like a bank.

Site Name Bonus Offer Rating States USA
Betonline 200% Max $2500 5 Star Rating 50/50 USA Accepted
Bovada 100% Max $1000 5 Star Rating 45/50 USA Accepted
Sportsbetting 200% Max $2500 5 Star Rating 50/50 USA Accepted
WSOP Poker 100% Max $400 4.5 Star Rating 3/50 USA Accepted

Is Online Poker Legal In the United States?

On a federal level, online poker has never been made illegal in any way, shape or form. In 2011, the Department of Justice came out with a statement clarifying this issue to set the record straight. What that means is that the legality of online poker comes down to the individual states. If there is a state law making it illegal, then it's illegal. Otherwise, if there is no law against it (which is the case in most states), then it's completely legal to play.

To take this a step further, a few states have went so far as to actually regulate the online poker industry. Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey all have regulated online poker games running right now, and Nevada was the first to start in April 2013. Other states have followed suit, and even more states like California and New York have had their legislature debating the regulation of the industry as well.

List Of States That Have Passed Laws To Legalize Online Poker

Legal Online Poker In Delaware
Legal Online Poker In Nevada
Legal Online Poker In New Jersey

What Do Players in Regulated States Think?

Poker is a game that requires a certain number of people to make a room successful. There have to be enough players to maintain the tables at various stakes, or it's hard to keep the games going. One of the problems that players from the regulated states like Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey have run into is that there aren't many people at the tables. This is largely because they are the first states to get this thing going, and there aren't many other states to work with in terms of sharing player pools, which would be the ultimate solution to the numbers problem.

With that having been said, the governors of Delaware and Nevada have both signed an agreement that allows their regulated sites to share players for a combined player pool, and that helps the games a bit, but it won't really make that much of a difference until other states sign on for the same thing. It's a pretty big step in the right direction, and the games will most likely be running around the clock without a problem as soon as another few states regulate the industry and sign on to share player pools as well.

Other than the player pool issue, players from the regulated states enjoy the fact that it's simple and easy to log in, deposit and jump right into the games with online poker rooms that are held accountable by their state governments.

What If You Don't Live in One of These Regulated Markets?

If you live outside of Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey, then there's nothing keeping you from playing at offshore sites. As we mentioned above, even the DOJ has come out saying that there is no federal law making online poker illegal, and all players have the ability to sign up and get started playing with a minimal amount of fuss.

As is the case with anything that involves sending money on the Internet, you'll want to make sure that you're playing with a reputable site that has reliable withdrawals, and we want to help you with the research you need to make sure that you're playing with a site that is both trustworthy and that meets your needs.

The Benefits of Playing at Offshore Sites

Offshore sites have a number of benefits because of the way the poker industry works and how competition always ends up giving players a better deal. For one, the issue of having enough people to keep games going isn't a problem because you get to play with others from across the United States and other parts of the world. At micro-stakes, small stakes and mid-stakes, most games run around the clock with several tables to choose from at the top offshore sites that are available to US players.

Another issue is that you have more chances for big bonuses and promotions. With more competition, the poker rooms have to keep the rake down and the promotions up as much as they can to give players value. If they don't, then players will simply leave to another site that gives them a better deal. This leads to a situation where the competition is working for the player to give him or her a better experience in the long run.

How to Deposit and Cash Out

There are three main types of banking options for online poker sites for US players, and the exact availability will depend on where you're playing, if you're playing with a state-regulated site or an offshore site, and what accounts you have access to. Credit cards like Visa and MasterCard, particularly pre-paid cards, tend to be one of the deposit options of choice, though some people will have electronic wallets available as well. Bank transfer options have withdrawals sent straight to your checking account, though you can also get them sent back to credit cards in some instances.

The bottom line is that getting your deposits and withdrawals going isn't very difficult once you know what's available, and the support teams available at each of the sites you might play with have been especially trained to walk you through the process of both deposits and withdrawals so that you know exactly what you need to do with a minimal amount of fuss.

Where is the Legal USA Online Poker Industry Heading

The current state of state-regulated online poker is that a few states have signed on, and some of those have signed an agreement to share players. The best chance for long-term success for the industry is for more states to sign on and continue to pool the players together because federal regulation simply isn't going to happen unless something drastic changes.

Several states have been debating or researching the possibility of regulating various types of online gambling, and online poker in particular has gotten a lot of attention. There are huge political maneuvering wars going on as well in some states like California where the native tribes, horse racing tracks and other groups are all trying to get different things changed to help their own industries instead of what they see as helping an emerging industry that will take away some of their market share.

If a few of these states would come to an agreement and get on board for the expansion of the industry, it's likely that many more states would follow through as well, and we could see decent player pools in these regulated markets inside of the next several years. How likely that is to happen is anyone's guess, but it's the most likely future for the state-regulated industry inside of the United States.