Poker has been a big part of American culture ever since the first travelers brought it over from Europe. In 1829, French settlers arrived in New Orleans and began playing a card game that involved betting, originally called ‘Poques.’ The game caught the eyes of many enthusiasts and spread like wild-fire throughout the country. Poker soon reached the saloons of the Wild West and later found its way into the casinos of Las Vegas.

For causal poker players, playing poker once meant that you had to have your friends around a table and a deck of cards to play with, but that’s no longer the case. In recent years, online poker has risen to popularity throughout the U.S., but the problem is not every state allows real money games. If you’re in this predicament, we are going to break down the state of play.

1. Online Poker is Legal

In our country, every state is allowed to make its own laws regarding online poker. With that said, America is always divided because some states have permitted online poker, and others prohibited gambling altogether. As of this writing, there are only five states that have legalized online poker and issued licenses for business to operate websites: New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

The first state to legalize online gambling was Delaware in 2012. This paved the way for other states to follow, like Nevada and New Jersey in 2013. Today, the internet gaming (iGaming) market in the U.S. has grown to a multibillion dollar industry which means states that allow it can cash in on big revenues. For example, New Jersey’s online casinos generated $239.2 million in tax revenues in 2021, of which poker is a portion. As more states notice how lucrative the iGaming industry is, perhaps they will reconsider their current position on online poker legislation.

2. Online Poker is Legal But No Licenses

There are two additional states that have passed legislation to legalize online poker, however, they have yet to issue business licenses to operate websites. These states are Connecticut and West Virginia. So, technically online poker is legal in seven states, but only five are currently operating sites. Despite the few states offering games, poker legalization is slowly happening in the U.S., and these two states will likely find a provider once the market expands. More than half the states in the country legally permit live poker, whether on Native American territory or in card rooms, so it makes perfect sense for more states to go in the direction towards expanding an already booming business.

3. Online Poker is Being Considered for Legislation

Even though laws have been passed in seven states, there are many more states beginning to consider permitting online poker. New York and Kentucky have made several attempts to put legislation on the table for years. Indiana state passed legislation for sports betting, including mobile wagering within state lines in 2019, which means online poker could be next. California, Colorado, and Florida have discussed legalizing online poker, but nothing has been put in writing yet. New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Vermont are some of the states that remain as hard as steel on the subject and have not even opened up discussions.

Poker has been around for a long time, with its roots dating back to some of the early settlers of our country. While there are very limited places to play poker online, the industry is growing and hopefully you’ll see parts of the expansion around your state.


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