How to Play Online Poker in the U.S. in 2019?


2019 has been a key year for online gambling legislation in the US, for now it involves a lot of rambling between state law makers, those in favor and those against it.

As an update on American gambling law, there’s a law called The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act that prohibited sports betting across the country, this ended up affecting all forms of gambling as a whole. More precisely with the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), the law that finally made all forms of gambling illegal.

On April 5th, 2011, a day that will always be remembered in infamy, the Department of Justice issued an indictment against three of the largest online poker websites in the country; Pokerstars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker. The history of poker began its rise and decline in the United States.

2011 marked a before and after in the poker world, both online and offline, and across the entire world as it ended the poker boom that had been growing since 2003. Throughout the entire first decade of the 2000’s, and even a few years before that, poker was one of the fastest growing fads around the world with the popularity of the World Poker Series. Poker players became celebrities who received huge endorsements, thousands of new players rushed to join online poker sites, and sport TV stations covered hours of events each week.

After 2011 the crowds lost interest, thousands of players had their online balance frozen for months and blogs about poker began to disappear. The industry was at a hiatus and continues to re-grow at a very slow pace. Till this day, online poker rooms find it extremely hard to grow their revenue.

So what happened in 2018?

With the overrule of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which determined that gambling is a subject to be legalized or not at a state level, not federal; states that had always wanted to make gambling legal can now do so.

During the midterm elections of 2018, many states used the voting day to let their residents decide if gambling should be legalized or not in their state, and it what form. The results were mixed, with some forms of gambling being allowed and others turned into the hands of tribal monopoly.

For now we can say land based casinos are increasing their presence in the country as well as in-side casino sports betting. Online gambling is having a shy appearance and there is some talk of legalizing mobile gambling, but the legislation for this is still being drafted and discussed in 2019.

There is little discussion yet about online poker. The biggest obstacle for poker is the native tribes that hold the gambling monopoly by law in several states, and do not wish for some competition. If online poker comes into their states (say California), it will have to be with their involvement. You can still play online poker legally in the United States from the few states and websites that allow it.

So Where Can You Play Online Poker in the USA?

Pennsylvania has legalized online poker, but the first websites are not expected to launch until the second half of 2019. States that are online poker licensed are Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey. There are very few sites to play right now; one of the few that is growing with strength is 888, who has acquired a New Jersey license to offer online poker.

Delaware has approved both online poker and online casinos since 2012 with the Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act.

Nevada legalized online poker in 2013 and New Jersey followed one week later. Casinos in Atlantic City are allowed to operate online poker and online casinos. Pennsylvania is expected to launch the first poker site in July 15, 2019.

The next probable state could be West Virginia, which legalized online poker with the passage of H 2934, the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act. However there is still much discussion going on and, if it happens, it will be most likely be in 2020.

If online poker is still not legal in your state, we suggest organizing some friendly poker games at home with friends while it happens. Shared prized pools are already being discussed, it is something that is happening Europe in 2019.