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Can Americans Play Online Poker Legally?

Can Americans Play Online Poker Legally?

There are many misconceptions right now when it comes to online poker in the United States. The quick and short of it is that Americans can play at online poker sites. However, due to the current legal situation many sites no longer accept US players. The best site accepting usa players is Bovada.

Here’s a quick overview of the current situation in the US, so that you can better understand your options as an American online poker player!

Is It Legal for Americans to Play Online Poker?

Yes! Although this should not be deemed a legal opinion, there are no laws preventing those in the United States from playing poker for real money online - at least at the federal level! Some U.S. states (notably, Washington), have made online gambling illegal on the player end.

And then there is the issue of differentiating between gambling and other games of skill (which many consider poker is). In fact, in 2012 a federal court in New York ruled that poker is a “game of skill” and is not illegal under the “Illegal Gambling Business Act”.

But for most of the country, the only restrictions are on the sites themselves - not on players. The most important of these laws is the UIGEA (The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006), which made it illegal for banks and financial institutions from processing transactions to and from gambling sites.

Is It Safe to Play Online Poker in the US?

Now here’s the thing. After the “Black Friday” indictments that targeted the three biggest poker sites accepting US players at the time: PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker/UB.com, these poker rooms and several others stopped taking Americans. With the exception of PokerStars, it took years for these indicted sites to pay back American players; if you got access back to your online bankroll at all (players on the Cereus network never saw their money).

But who is to know whether or not the federal government won’t stop with just a few poker sites. Any online poker room accepting Americans could be targeted, and since the rooms remaining tend to be smaller and less financially secure, it’s even less likely that they’ll be able to secure funds for their US players. This is why you should never have your entire bankroll tied up on one site.

This means that any money you deposit into an unregulated online poker site carries a certain level of risk. Even US-facing poker sites that have not been targeted are finding it difficult to send winnings to Americans, as many payment processors have left the US market. But there are US-facing online poker sites that still manage to get funds into the hands of players in a timely manner.

What are the Best Online Poker Sites for Americans?

Online poker rooms that have continued to operate and service USA players are somewhat limited - and thus Americans only have a few poker rooms we’ll recommend. Fortunately, however, there are still at least a few decent options that Americans can play at.

The top online poker sites for those residing in the United States are Americas Cardroom, BetOnline and Bovada Poker. While the traffic on these sites is nothing like what you would expect pre-Black Friday on the major online poker sites, it’s still decent enough, and you can play a huge variety of games such as Texas Hold’em for real money across a range of stakes and game types. If you’re looking to get your online poker fix, you can’t go wrong with any of these sites.


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