Learn all there is to know about playing online poker in the United States, find out the latest developments, and discover the best and safest sites where you can play without any fear or concern.
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Are you a US online poker player looking to play your favorite game on the virtual felt? You have come to the right place as we offer you a complete overview of online poker rooms in the US and all the legal poker sites and apps where you can play best online poker games.
Online poker has been in the US since its very inception, but in 2011 all the major operators were banned from the country for failing to respect the ambiguous laws and regulations in place at the time. It took a while, but in 2013 the first 100% legal and regulated online poker sites launched in Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey.
Today, regulated US online poker sites are available in several states.
In this guide to online poker in the US, we bring you a full list of states in which you can play online poker, the operators which you may have access to, and everything else you need to jump right into the action.
Keep reading to find your way to the best online poker sites in your state where you can feel safe playing poker for the first time since the Black Friday.
|Regulated online poker||Live poker sites|
Online poker is booming in the US, with new operators entering the market every year. Here is the list of the online poker operators that currently offer legal online poker within US:
|PokerStars||The world’s leading online poker operator is available in NJ, PA, and MI, and offer some of the biggest poker tournaments and a host of cash game tables across all stakes and game types.|
|WSOP.com||Hosting the online WSOP events in NJ, MI, PA, and NV, WSOP.com is one of the major online poker brands in the US. While cash games are also available, WSOP.com is most appealing to players for its variety in tournament options.|
|Partypoker||Powered by yet another one of the international industry leaders, partypoker is available in NJ, PA, and MI, with focus on both cash game poker and tournaments and major tournament series running on a regular basis.|
|BetMGM Poker||With a generous welcome bonus and plenty of regular action at both cash games and tournaments, BetMGM Poker is yet another big name fighting for liquidity in the three main markets in the US.|
|Borgata Poker||Available to players in NJ and PA only at this time, Borgata Poker is part of the big partypoker family and is backed by one of the largest live casinos in Atlantic City.|
Poker players in the US are presented with many options to play the game online, with both legal and illegal offshore sites offering their services. Of course, we always recommend playing at a regulated poker site for many different reasons.
Here are the main things you should look at when picking the online poker site to play at:
Are you interested in playing online poker in the US and are looking to set up your first account? Here are the general steps you will need to follow to get started as an online poker player in the US.
With so many different operators out there, and many advertising to be “the best US poker site,” how can you actually be sure which sites are regulated and which are not? Here are a few things to look out for in your pursuit of a legal place to play online poker:
Since online poker sites are still so few and only available in a few states, you may be wondering why you should go through the trouble of finding one. After all, you have heard of people playing at offshore sites and having a decent enough experience. However, there are clear advantages to playing at regulated poker sites, and here are a few of them:
Regulated US online poker sites offer some of the biggest and most lucrative bonus offers and promotions in the world. As the sites compete for traffic and new players, welcome bonuses have never been juicier and players can benefit from a host of valuable promotions and reload bonuses as well.
The first thing to welcome players at practically every regulated US poker site is a welcome bonus. Often worth as much as a $1,000, welcome bonuses are a great way to start building an online poker bankroll in the US.
Online poker bonuses are generally issued to players as a form of rakeback, which means you will have to play real money games to get your hands on the bonus. As you play real money poker and accumulate loyalty points, your bonus will be released in increments of 5%, 10%, or more. In either case, expect a high return on any rake paid while your welcome bonus is active.
While getting a welcome bonus when you make your first deposit is a common practice around the world, no deposit bonuses have been less common outside of the US lately. At US poker sites, however, you can get some free cash or tournament tickets at most sites just for signing up.
These no deposit bonuses are given to every player who signs up as a chance to try playing real money poker without any real risk and a great opportunity to explore the site. If you live in a state where online poker is legal, you should look into the no deposit offers that are available.
Another great way to benefit from playing real money online poker in the US is through the various loyalty schemes and programs that the operators have in store for you. Loyalty points are awarded based on how much you play and the rake you pay, and they can be converted into cash, bonuses, and other real rewards.
Make sure you understand the loyalty scheme of the site you plan on playing at before you commit any significant funds to it. After all, the difference between a good loyalty program and a poor one can be a very big factor in your bottom line.
Live poker is available across the country and no matter where you live there is likely a live poker room close to you. Now that online poker is also becoming more widely available, let’s weigh the pros and cons of playing at online poker sites and figure out what advantages you may get from playing online poker.
The history of online poker in the US is as long as the history of online poker worldwide as some of the first operators launched in the US at their inception. Here is how we got from there to here in a few simple footnotes.
Online poker in the US is currently regulated at the state level. Every state has the right to create and pass its own rules and legislations, and these laws are only valid within the state borders. At this time, there is no federal law dealing with US online poker (or online gambling in general), and it does not seem likely such a law will be passed in the foreseeable future.
In the current setup, poker sites regulated by a particular state are only allowed to offer real money poker games for the players physically present within its borders. For example, a person from California can register with a poker site licensed in Michigan, but they will only be allowed to play while physically present in Michigan.
The term interstate poker in the US means allowing players from different states to play in the same player pool. Without federal regulation in place, it is down to states to figure out how and if they want to allow this.
To those not familiar with the topic, it may seem that states would be quick to jump at the opportunity to merge player pools and create bigger, more sustainable environments. However, while there is no federal law regulating online poker, there is a federal act that has been giving state regulators a pause when it comes to crossing state lines.
Passed in 1961, the Interstate Wire Act was designed to prevent illegal betting across state lines. The Act made it illegal to use wire communications to place bets outside of state lines. Its original intention was to hinder mob activity in the sports betting business.
At first glance, there is nothing in the Wire Act that pertains to online poker, and the whole idea of online gambling was not even a thing at the time. However, as it often happens with old laws, this particular one found its way into the modern environment.
It was in 2018 that the US Department of Justice released its interpretation of the Act, claiming that its scope extends beyond sports betting and covers other forms of online gambling – online poker included. This was the DOJ going back on its earlier interpretation from 2011, which stated that activities not related to sports betting were outside of the Wire Act scope.
This interpretation is probably the biggest reason why there has not been more movement on the interstate poker front.
Prior to this, in 2014, Nevada and Delaware had already signed an interstate poker compact. New Jersey joined the agreement, which came to be known as the MSIGA (Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement) in 2017. To this day, these three states are the only ones to share player pools across borders, and WSOP.com is the only operator to really take advantage of this opportunity with poker platforms in all three states.
Although four more states now have regulated poker (Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Connecticut), state regulators have been reluctant to look into possible interstate compacts because of the 2018 DOJ decision.
However, things have been looking better for US online poker recently as the 2018 Wire Act interpretation was repelled, opening doors for new expansions.
The 2018 decision by the DOJ, which was accompanied by threats and warnings (which never came to fruition), was a reason for concern for state governments. New Jersey, which spearheaded the path of safe and legal online poker in the US, filed a lawsuit demanding answers and clarity. The New Hampshire Lottery Commission did the same, fearing that this could harm their interstate sale of lottery tickets.
In 2019, a US District Court dismissed the DOJ interpretation of the Wire Act, underlying that it had “significant coherence problems.”
The DOJ filed an appeal, and the case went in front of the Court of Appeals. The case was heard once again, and the Court of Appeals upheld the original decision, striking down the 2018 interpretation.
The DOJ had one last instance available to them, as they could have taken the case to the US Supreme Court. But with the new administration in place in Washington, the interest in pursuing this matter seemingly disappeared.
Finally, the path was clear for the expansion of the US online poker.
As mentioned, the MSIGA is currently the only active multi-state online poker compact in the US. Originally, it was signed between Nevada and Delaware, and New Jersey joined a few years down the line.
With some clarity on the Wire Act situation finally available, other regulated states have been looking into their options, and Michigan is leading the way.
Namely, the state has been approved by the other three states’ regulators to join the Multi-State agreement as the fourth member. The process is still ongoing as of the time of writing this, but it seems very likely MI will become a full member of the MSIGA in the coming months, if not weeks.
Currently, there are three poker sites operating in the state: PokerStars, WSOP, and BetMGM. All of these also have a presence in New Jersey, which means their overall traffic will surge once the deal is finalized. Michigan is the second-largest regulated US poker state, with a population of over 10 million.
Yes, online poker has been legal in the US for almost a decade now. However, the game is not regulated on the federal level. States have the right to pass their own online poker laws and so far, only a handful of states have regulated online poker in the US, namely Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and West Virginia.
You can sign up with any US poker site by visiting the operator’s page and filling in the required details to open your account. While it’s possible to sign up from pretty much anywhere in the US, you should keep in mind that you will only be allowed to play for real money while physically present in the state where the particular room is regulated. So, for example, you can only play on PokerStars PA while in Pennsylvania.
Every state has a body in charge of licensing and regulating poker sites and other forms of online gambling. US online poker sites are regulated on the state level and there is no overarching federal body that would oversee their operations.
The best way to know if an online poker site is legal in the US is by checking out their licensing information. This info is available on the page, usually in the footer, and it clearly indicates what organization is in charge of licensing and regulation. In New Jersey, for example, this would be the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE).
On top of this, regulated US sites are owned by well-known companies and do not cater to players from the entire country but rather from the individual state where the operator is licensed. Licensed US poker sites also do not accept bitcoins.
There are several major operators present in regulated US online poker markets in the country, including PokerStars, WSOP.com, BetMGM, Borgata, and partypoker. Not all of them are available across all regulated states, but you can rest assured these are your best and safest picks.
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WSOP PA in particular has been the main force behind Pennsylvania’s annual growth in online poker revenue.
Republicans also allowed a separate bill that would have created a $50 million problem gambling fund to die in a Senate committee.
Thanks to a huge signup bonus, big overlays in MTTs, its first ambassador, and now a plan for its first circuit series — WSOP Michigan is in a great position for expanding multi-state online poker.
Michigan is in the final stages before ratifying the agreement to join NV, NJ, DE in an interstate online poker compact. MGCB “confident” it will “sign [MSIGA] expeditiously” once review completed by the State Attorney General.
Michigan signing on to share liquidity with New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware could persuade Pennsylvania to follow suit and join the multi-state compact next.
The ultimate guide to the forthcoming four-state poker compact — expected timeline, impact to online poker rooms, opportunities for other states to join in shared liquidity, and more.
Supporters of expanded gaming in Kentucky caught a big break when legislation was read twice before a 10-day recess. But there are only two days left for this year’s legislative session and some conservatives remain opposed.
Despite late entry, WSOP found big success in Pennsylvania. Now, as a latecomer (again) to the Michigan online poker market, it hopes for a repeat win with its newly launched WSOP MI.
No other states have submitted applications to join the interstate compact. If Michigan’s MSIGA application & suggested amendments are accepted, the door would open for BetMGM & PokerStars to challenge rival WSOP for top US online poker network.