Michael McKean is an experienced writer with a portfolio that includes work on the subjects of sport, gambling, travel and finance. With a background rooted in journalism, Michael first ventured into the professional writing world based in Switzerland, where he wrote for a number of language and travel sites and magazines before moving into the world of sports writing and gambling sites.
As an avid soccer fan, who follows everything from the Scottish lower leagues to the European elites, he has earned himself a solid reputation as a reliable football betting tipster and predictor. Outside of work, Michael has always gotten involved with grassroutes football everywhere he has worked and lived - UK, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland and Brazil - and still isn’t shy when it comes to pulling the boots on himself. As well as soccer, he has also developed a love of North American sports, particularly ice hockey - a love which began in Switzerland and saw him venture across the pond to follow the NHL. Moving away from dry land, he’s also a keen longboard surfer and is happiest when writing with a view of the ocean.
Is online poker legal in the United States? That depends on where in the US you are. Multiple states have legalized online poker. More are in the process of it, including online poker in Michigan. We fully expect that in the next several years, online poker will be legal in the entire US. It's taken a long time to happen but for people who like poker, it's a great thing. Now you are no longer forced to go to underground games that could be rigged and set up just to take your money.
Now that poker is becoming more mainstream it's time for you to find the legal poker sites in the United States where you can play. And that's a key point. In states where online poker is legal, it's only legal when you play at a site given a license by the state to operate. If you play online poker at a different site not only the site operator but you yourself could be hit with criminal penalties.
Luckily for you we at Captain Gambling only review sites that are legally licensed. Therefore if you pick an online poker site from us you can be sure it is legal in the US.
If online gambling is newly legal in your state or if it's about to become legal now is the time to learn how to play it and find out where to go. Captain Gambling will be with you each and every step of the way.
Legal Poker Sites In The US
Where online poker is legal it is generally part of a larger operation. These companies don't just offer legal online poker in the US. They also offer only casinos. They may have a live casino. More often than not they also offer sports betting. As of now, there is no site that is exclusively dedicated to offering legal online poker.
The number of online legal poker sites right now is limited. Most of them are connected to brick and mortar casinos. That said there are a few legal poker sites in the United States that are online only. 888 casino is one example of an exclusively legal online poker site in the US.
All of these sites are greatly regulated. That means that you can trust that none of the games are fixed. State authorities routinely look at the way the casino operates. They check out its random number generator. They check out their bonus offers including poker no deposits bonus offers. They do everything in their power to ensure that the game is fair. That is why you can have legal online poker in a great part of the United States right now.
captaingambling's function is twofold. First, we want you to be able to find the best legal online poker site you can. That way you can just relax and have a good time. Hence why we provide reviews of all the online casinos in your state. That way you can read about them, see what's good and what needs work and then make an informed choice of where you want to bet your real money.
Secondly, we want to teach people how to play legal poker online in the USA. We want to make sure you only play in online poker legal states. We have a variety of online poker strategy guides for you to look through. You can use our poker tips to help up your chances of winning more. This two-pronged approach we believe will help people have a great time when they play legal poker sites in the United States.
You Must Be At Least 18 Years Of Age To Play Online Poker In The United States
There is one case where online poker is not legal anywhere in the United States. That is when you are under 18 years of age. If that is you do not try to play at any online poker site. The odds are you will get caught. When you get caught a lot of bad things can happen. The site can seize all of your money. They can refer you to the authorities where you can get hit with fines, or even a court order. What you can do if you are under 18 and love poker is to keep practicing your skills while playing against your friends for matches. That way when you are old enough to come to a legal poker site in the United States you will be prepared to come in winning.
Why Isn't Online Poker Legal In My State?
There are several online poker legal states in existence right now. That said the majority of states do not have online poker as legal yet, but that's just a matter of time. To protect people from gambling too often, the government decided to simply make gambling illegal. At the time it seemed like the best solution.
But it turns out that people really like to gamble, and illegal organized crime came in and started running it. That led to a lot of fixed games. It also led to a lot of unscrupulous collection methods. This was clearly not a great long-term solution.
The idea sprung up to find a controlled way to legalize gambling. The first experiment started out in Las Vegas. Hotels would be allowed to have casinos. But they had to be licensed and regulated. You had to be sure that the game you were playing was not rigged. Not only did this give gambling a foothold it also provided many, many jobs for people in the state.
Over the years this type of legal gambling was expanded to most of the states of the union. People accepted it and it is here to stay.
Looking at the success in Europe and the UK, individual states then started making online gambling legal where they are. There have been virtually no problems and it has taken a bite out of organized crime. If online poker is not legal in your state, it probably will be in a year or two.
Do I Have To Pay Taxes On My Online Poker Winnings?
This is the number one question we receive. And the answer is “yes.” When you play at legal online poker sites in the US you will have to pay taxes on any money you win. You'll have to pay them as state taxes. And you'll owe that money to the IRS.
That said in any given year it's only your total winnings that you have to pay taxes on. Anything you win will be offset by whatever losses you also incur. Since most people more or less break even playing online poker taxes should not be all that much of a problem.
If you are a professional poker player who has been hitting the brick and mortar casinos and making a living at poker, you already know that you have to pay taxes on what you win. After all, it is your job. Simply having the same rules apply to you when you gamble at a legal poker site in the United States shouldn't be that big a deal for you. It's just business as usual.
Can I Do Anything That Would Be Considered Illegal When Playing Poker Online?
Yes, you can. And this is why you have to be very careful when playing legal online poker in the US. The most common illegal thing people can do is this. Nearly all casinos offer free bonus cash to a new player. This may tempt you to set up more than one new account and claim the bonus offer many times over. Don't do that. It's against the law and you could go to jail and/or find your right to play online legal poker revoked.
The second thing you can do – and this is very rare – is to try to write a program that will allow you to rig the game on your end. This will get you in a lot of trouble because you will probably be caught. Online casinos that offer poker have a lot of digital security in place. They are constantly looking for hacks. If they find you they will turn you over to the cops. And trying to manipulate a gambling site in your favor will bring both state and federal authorities down on you. They take this very seriously. That is why this kind of crime – at this point – is very rare in the United States.
Is Online Poker Software Regulated As Well?
Yes, when it comes to legal poker sites in the United States not only are the sites regulated but the software they use is as well. And there is a good reason for that. Most sites that offer online poker legally in the United States do not develop their own software to provide it. They simply provide a place to host the games and the means to accept and pay out money.
Instead, they rely on software providers like Evolution Gaming to provide them with the software they can install on their systems. This software is what controls the games. And to be honest, a lot of online poker providers know nothing about what's in that software or how it was built. There are regulations for software providers. They must be able to demonstrate that the games perform fairly and don't give an extra edge to the house. They have to prove they work as advertised. This is just as true for online poker games as it is for video slot machines and the live casinos they provide. In our poker providers reviews, we answer all those essential questions, such as "Is PokerStars scam?" and "Is Global Poker legit?".
At the end of the day, you need to have regulations covering everyone involved in legal poker online or else you will get some greedy people trying to game the system. That's not good for anybody.
What About Playing Online Poker From Apps? Is That Legal?
Apps are the wave of the future. It used to be that people only connected to the Internet from home. But these days they like to do so on the go. That’s how poker apps were born. They allow you to quickly and easily launch an online casino and start playing poker.
Apps let you avoid the browser on your phone – and thank goodness because phone browsers are difficult to use. Instead, you just click on the icon for the app and the site launches immediately.
Because the app has the exact same content as the website it will normally be just as legal as if you were playing on your laptop or desktop at home. You can play while you are on the go. The exception would be if you travel out of state for any reason. Should you do that then you would be breaking the law if you traveled to another state where online gambling has yet to be legalized.
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Online Poker Legal FAQs
If I go to another state where gambling is legal will I still be able to play it?
That all depends on whether or not that online poker site has managed to get a license to operate in the state you are visiting. For example, Pennsylvania has issued fewer online casino licenses than New Jersey has. Your site might not be legal to play there. Take a look at our list of what are the best casinos in the state you are going to in order to figure out if your site will be legal when you travel.
I've just introduced my wife to the game. Why can't she can't get a welcome bonus?
The online poker websites will use your IP address to confirm that you are only getting one online bonus from them. When your wife tries to register it will notice your IP address and tell her that she can't get the welcome bonus. Welcome bonuses are generally limited to one per household. She can still play all she wants but can't get the welcome bonus.
How much authority do the states have when they license online poker games?
They have absolute authority when it comes to licensing any and all forms of gambling online. And they tend to be very strict. They constantly monitor online casino operators. They are constantly checking out the software providers. And they are taking a cold hard look at what the players are doing. If anyone involved is violating any laws they will instantly jump in with fines, fees and jail time.
What if I win $20,000 at poker? Do I really have to pay taxes on that money?
Yes, you do. And if you try to avoid taxes you'll get caught. How exactly are you going to explain a $20,000 credit to your credit cards? Or sending that much money to your bank through PayPal or an e-wallet. The bottom line is that if you win money on a game, you'll have to pay taxes on that money. That's the way the world works.
How do I know if an online casino site is legitimate?
Simply find out if they are licensed by the state you are living in. If they have a license, they've had to jump through a lot of hoops to get it. They won't do anything to risk losing it. On the other hand, if they don't have a license then they are not legitimate – and are probably running a scam of some sort in order to take your money. So just be careful about where you play, and you should have no problems. It's not that hard to find out if the place you are playing at is licensed.
The online gambling landscape in the US has changed quite a bit over the past few years. After a period of silence, there are more and more states adopting online gambling laws and launching regulated casino sites. While things may not be happening as fast as we would like them to, we’re definitely getting there and it is only a matter of time before players from the entire USA are able to legally play online on safe and fully regulated sites. And we’re looking forward to that day!