In the early 2000’s online poker was everywhere in the United States. Poker sites like PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and partypoker were mainstream online poker operators, sponsoring late night television shows and appearing on the hats and shirts of every poker player that appeared on television.
All of that changed in 2011 when every major online poker site was shut down as a result of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (on the day now known as Black Friday). Since that time, poker players in the United States have been eager to return to the online tables to play in legalized, regulated real-money tournaments and cash games.
While online poker is still prohibited at the federal level, a handful of states have been able to pass legislation to bring online poker back to their residents. So, if you’d like to play online poker in the United States here are the states that have legalized online poker for not just those who live in the state but for anyone who is inside its borders.
Nevada Online Poker
In December of 2011, the Nevada Gaming Commission began to conceive of the necessary regulations. In February of 2013 the Nevada Legislature confirmed the regulations and by April of that year online poker site Ultimate Poker opened its digital doors for business.
Nowadays, Ultimate Poker is no longer in existence. There is really only one option in Nevada for the online player – WSOP.com. The site, powered by the software of 888poker, offers most of poker’s major variants including Texas Hold’em, Pot-Limit Omaha, Omaha High/Low, Seven Cards Stud and Seven Card Stud High/Low.
The site, which is an extension of the popular live tournament brand, offers a wide variety of tournaments and even online bracelet and circuit events.
In order to play on WSOP.com a player simply needs to be in the state of Nevada.
Delaware Online Poker
In June of 2013, Delaware passed legislation to bring back online poker. By early November that year, online poker was up and running in “the First State.”
Delaware’s online poker situation is unique from both Nevada and New Jersey in that the Delaware Lottery controls all aspects of online gaming and all online poker clients are powered by a single software belonging to 888poker.
There are three different clients for people to choose from, all branded by one of the states racetracks.
- Delaware Park
- Dover Downs
- Harrington Raceway
Each of the three sites operates the same, the main difference being the promotions offered by each entity and the branding. The player pool for all three clients are co-mingled as well, so players in Delaware no matter their client, will be playing with each other.
New Jersey Online Poker
New Jersey was the third of the three current states that have online poker legalized and operating. With a population three times that of Nevada, the inclusion of New Jersey to the U.S. online poker landscape was a large step forward.
Unlike in Nevada, poker players in New Jersey have much more of a choice when it comes to picking an online poker site. There are four different networks in New Jersey, as opposed to the single network operation of Delaware. That has allowed for six online poker rooms for players to log on.
Players have the option of playing on:
– PokerStars NJ
– 888 Poker NJ
– partypoker NJ
– Borgata Poker
– Pala Poker
New Jersey opened the door for major poker brands PokerStars, partypoker and 888 poker to return to the U.S. and begin to reintroduce themselves to the U.S. poker population.
Players in New Jersey have more options for both deposit bonuses and loyalty programs as well as each of the networks providing a different look and feel in their poker clients.
Pennsylvania Online Poker
Pennsylvania has officially become the fourth US state to pass legislation to allow for the return of online poker.
In late 2017, PA Governor Tom Wolf signed the bill that would allow for the legalization, and regulation, of online poker, sports betting, daily fantasy sports and interactive online gaming. In 2018, PA prepares itself to join Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware as the growing contingency of states that will offer a full slate of poker cash games and tournaments to players located within the states borders.
While there has yet to be a firm timetable of when Pennsylvania online poker sites will go live, there is hope within the industry that players may be dealt hands as soon as the end of first quarter 2019.
The expansion of online poker in PA is expected to be competitive with no fewer than seven properties applying for a license to offer poker. The brands expected to be in the market place include WSOP.com, PokerStars and 888poker.
Michigan Online Poker
On December 21, 2018 the state of Michigan passed a bill that would have legalized online poker, as well as online casino games. The bill had made it so the Michigan Gaming Control Board would be responsible for all aspects of online poker and included a 15-month waiting period for any operators could launch to allow time for the newly-created Division of Internet Gaming to create the appropriate regulations and process potential licenses.
It turns out that Michigan residents will apparently have to wait longer than 15 months as in the 11th hour in his position of Governor, Rick Snyder vetoed the bill effectively bringing a halt to what looked to be a promising development in online poker in the U.S.
US Online Poker Shared Liquidity
In what has been the biggest boost to the return of online poker in recent years is the development of the tri-state online poker liquidity between Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware.
On May 1, 2018 the three states began to allow players in each state to play against each other. The biggest beneficiary of this was WSOP.com, which is essentially the online online brand in Nevada. WSOP.com could now incorporate players from New Jersey and players from both states have had the benefit of larger player and prize pools.
The state of Pennsylvania is set to go live in 2019 however it cannot be predicted if and when players in the state would have the opportunity to join the shared player pool of the other three states.
This page will be updated with news and information as more U.S. states make work their way back into offering online poker.