The United States could easily generate billions in taxes and create thousands of jobs in the industry as an alternative to live casino table games.

Why is online poker not legal in the United States?

2 Answers 2


It is not strictly illegal. There is online poker in New Jersey and it has generated a lot of tax revenue. I think same in LA and Nevada. You must be a resident of the state.

IANAL but gambling has to be legal in your state and the state gambling commission must approve online gambling. Gambling across state lines is an interstate commerce thing.

Federal law is probably going to need to play out in courts. Again IANAL (I am not a lawyer).

At the federal level they made processing the money transaction illegal.

Most states don't allow gambling and you could have the same argument of jobs and tax revenue. Gambling is not widely accepted as a positive contribution to society (in the USA).

  • Gambling is not widely accepted as a positive contribution to society is a statement that can be said about almost any activity that humans partake in. It's also not fair to call poker gambling. It's no more gambling than betting that the sun will rise tomorrow. Oct 30, 2016 at 22:50
  • @natel Charity - is that bad? Is betting on the sun will rise tomorrow gambling?
    – paparazzo
    Oct 31, 2016 at 1:10
  • What is your definition of gambling? Everyday I put all my chips in that the sun will rise tomorrow. Charity is great and that's what taxing poker is all about. Oct 31, 2016 at 2:09
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    @natel What is your definition of trolling? I chose not to engage you.
    – paparazzo
    Oct 31, 2016 at 12:10

It is not strictly illegal. Some states have specifically outlawed it, such as Washington and I believe Kentucky and New York, while others have expressly legalized it, as @Paparazzi mentions in his answer.

The reason for this is due to the interpretation of federal law that deals with wire fraud and transferring money electronically for the purposes of games of chance. There has been no consistent and final legal ruling on the debate of skill vs luck in poker, which makes the transfer of money a potential sticking point, as seen when many of the large poker sites pulled out of the US, while others stuck around, skirting, if not outright breaking, laws regarding the coding of financial transactions.

In addition, there are currently many legal hurdles to just getting homes games legalized throughout the United States, let alone online poker. There is also the issue of determining whether it is in federal governments place to regulate and tax online poker, or if the states should, as some have already done, and others are considering.

  • It's not fair to call poker a game of chance. If you're going to call poker a game of chance, I am going to call life a game of chance. Oct 30, 2016 at 22:52
  • I'm not the one calling it a game of chance. And fair or not, it's how the US legal system has ruled most of the time.
    – Herb
    Oct 30, 2016 at 23:02
  • If you don't agree with the fact that it's a game of chance, why would you include that statement in your answer? Don't pass the buck. Make it clear what your opinion is please. I'm not interested in your guess at what other people are thinking. Oct 30, 2016 at 23:34
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    Because that is how the UIGEA attempts to define it.
    – Herb
    Oct 30, 2016 at 23:58
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    That was a federal law, passed 409-2. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unlawful_Internet_Gambling_EnIllegal Gambling Business Actforcement_Act_of_2006.
    – Herb
    Oct 31, 2016 at 0:12

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