Legal Poker Rooms

One of the biggest concerns among poker players today is making sure the rooms they are playing online poker in are legal to use in their country. Luckily, most players will have plenty of excellent poker rooms from which to choose that are perfectly legal to play on. Here are our picks for the best legal poker rooms:

Leading Poker Sites That Are Legal In United States

Rank Site Download Mac Linux Bonus Visit Site
1 BetOnline Poker 25% Bonus www.BetOnline.comRead Review
2 AmericasCardroom $1000 www.AmericasCardroom.euRead Review

Legal Poker In The USA

Many people think that there aren’t any poker sites that you can legally play at if you live in the USA. If you are a U.S. resident and are looking to find out what is actually going on as far as the legality and availability of online poker in the USA, read on.

The amount of confusion concerning the legality of online poker is at an epidemic. Players are confused, the media are confused, and even the U.S. government appears confused, although there’s little doubt that their confusion is intentionally faked.

So if you’re one of the millions of U.S. residents that are looking to play online poker but weren’t sure if you could play legally or not, you’ve definitely found the right website. I’m not just going to tell you that it’s legal, I’m going to explain why it is with reference to the existing law that is on the books now, including both legislation and applicable court rulings.

I will tell you though that the ongoing battle between the U.S. Department of Justice and the online poker sites who have been offering real money poker on the internet to U.S. residents isn’t about the law at all. As you will see, it is really about looking to muscle these online poker sites, through strong arm tactics that have nothing to do with the law at all.

Is It Legal To Play Poker In The US?

When people ask this question, what they really mean is whether there is any federal law prohibiting online poker. Most people think that there is, but once again, they are mistaken.

The U.S. federal government does have dominion over interstate betting, or in other words, betting that isn’t confined to a particular state. This is why individual states generally decide these things, for instance, allowing people to play the lottery, bet on horse racing, play at whatever casinos a state may have, and so on. This is because all these forms of gambling take place exclusively within a given state.

Now online betting, at least the kind that we have today, doesn’t originate from within the United States at all, let alone from within any particular state. So there’s little doubt that the federal government has jurisdiction here, although this would be different if a state regulated online gambling within their own state, as some have already contemplated.

There are now a few states such as Washington State that have passed specific legislation to make online gambling illegal, and although the states that have these laws are very few in number, there is at least some serious doubt as to whether or not states even have jurisdiction over interstate gambling.

In fact, those who seek to allow state regulated interstate gambling have been instructed by the Department of Justice to stay out of this as it’s not their territory. The U.S. Constitution clearly places all interstate commerce within federal jurisdiction. So if states really don’t have the power to make it legal, it follows that they don’t have the power to make it illegal either.

Online Gambling And Poker Laws In The USA

So now it’s time to turn to whatever federal legislation would apply to online gambling originating offshore, since it’s the feds who have the real say here. Back in the day when online gambling first became popular, the U.S. government asserted that it was illegal to offer such betting by way of the Federal Wire Act of 1961.

This law forbade people from transmitting bets on sporting events across state lines. It’s worth noting that the Federal Wire Act didn’t make it illegal for people to make these bets, it only went after the so called bookies. Back then, most sports betting was run by organized crime, and this law was designed to give the government the power to shut down these operations.

Since the Wire Act specifically addressed sports betting, and not poker or casino betting, it got challenged in the courts. The case was ultimately decided by the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals, who ruled that it clearly did not apply to forms of betting other than on sporting contests.

In the U.S. and just about every country, the judiciary holds power over the legislative branch, and there’s absolutely no question that this ruling stands, and renders the Wire Act inapplicable to online poker and casino betting, a fact that the court explicitly stated in its decision. In spite of this, to this day, ten years later, the U.S. Department of Justice still contends that the Wire Act makes poker and casino betting illegal in the United States, a fact which is mistaken beyond any doubt.

The UIGEA: The Sham Continues

In 2006, Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. This act is aptly named, since it empowers the government to prosecute unlawful gambling at the federal level. There is one big problem with this though, and it’s the fact that other than sports betting, internet betting isn’t unlawful at all.

The Department of Justice once again proclaimed that the Federal Wire Act applied to online poker and casino betting, ignoring the courts who have the final say here. In order for the UIGEA to even speak to these forms of betting, it had to be illegal in the first place, as all the UIGEA does is to prohibit financial institutions from processing financial transactions involving betting separately deemed to be illegal.

So in spite of a fear campaign waged against both banks and online poker and casino sites, several online poker sites looked at the law here and decided, rightly, that this act did not apply to anything they were doing. As it turned out, the U.S. government used their power on more than one occasion to convince lower level judges to do their bidding and allow them to freeze poker withdrawals, even though even a superficial examination of the law would have not allowed this. These magistrates either failed in their sworn duty or really were that stupid, and this resulted in accounts being frozen and money taken.

Legal Poker After Black Friday

Up until Black Friday, the meanderings of the U.S. Department of Justice were limited to some relatively small seizures. The online poker sites affected merely shrugged it off and absorbed the losses without any trouble. However, with the Black Friday incident, they obtained information from an individual who was once on the inside of the payment processing operation, and ended up telling all he knew.

The intimidation of the UIGEA had resulted in driving the payment processing underground, meaning processing deposits and withdrawals to and from the U.S. to and from the offshore poker rooms. Now armed with this extensive amount of new information provided by their informant, the feds now knew where the money was, and in a massive effort, they seized hundreds of millions of dollars and temporarily shut down the websites of the big online poker companies under attack.

So this led to all three operations having to give in. In the case of Cereus, who ran UB and Absolute Bet, the loss of the seized money was a fatal blow, and they ended up declaring bankruptcy. In the case of Full Tilt Poker, this was a mortal wound to them, and it remains to be seen if they will ever be back up and running again. Only Poker Stars survived relatively unscathed, and emerged the victor here, although they had to promise never again to offer online poker to Americans.

Why Are Some Real Money Poker Sites Still In The US?

It’s said that where there is a will, there is a way. Simply put, if there are people in the United States that want to do something, someone will find a way for them to do it. Several top quality online poker rooms and networks still offer online poker to Americans, and it really just comes down to finding a way to let people get money in and out of their poker sites.

So the bottom line here is that, yes, it is legal for you to play online poker if you’re from the USA, and legal here means no enforceable law against it. At the same time, whether or not it is legal for the poker rooms to offer it to you is of no consequence anyway, since they are not subject to U.S. laws anyway. It is perfectly legal in the country where they are located, and that’s all that matters.

However, as we’ve seen, it isn’t even illegal under American law for them to do this. This isn’t a matter of any real dispute in fact, and the fact that the Department of Justice still insists that the Wire Act applies to online poker, in spite of a Federal Court ruling clearly otherwise, isn’t a matter of dispute, it’s just ignoring the truth.

One thing that’s for sure is that the game has changed sine Black Friday. No longer are poker rooms so complacent when it comes to their payment processing operations with U.S. residents. So those poker rooms who have persevered and refused to be pushed around by a foreign country not even respecting their own laws have redoubled their efforts here. Some even stopped taking new U.S. players for several months while they came up with new and more effective means to provide the high level of service that American players require.

The Future Of Online Poker In The U.S.

While many U.S. based online poker players have been scared off by the events of Black Friday, more and more of them are jumping back into the game at some pretty awesome poker sites. Many of these sites have considerably soft competition compared to Poker Stars and Full Tilt, who both in fact had by far the most difficult competition of any poker sites in history.

So while countless players lament about the present state of online poker in the USA, and pine away for the legislation and regulation that so many have talked about but no one has been able to pass yet, those more in the know such as ourselves aren’t so easily fooled by all the rhetoric and misinformation.

The death of online poker in the United States has been greatly exaggerated, and is in fact very alive and well. If you are one of us who refuse to be told by their government how they can spend their own hard earned money, we have several top recommendations for you which will not only get you back in the game, it will get you back at some truly fishy poker sites, which will have you counting Black Friday as a real blessing, as it not for that, you probably wouldn’t have been turned on to these great poker sites.