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Navigating Legal Issues in Online Poker

Online poker has quickly become an immensely popular activity worldwide, yet before starting to play it’s essential that you understand its legal environment.

After seeing great success in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, online real money poker remains uncertain in other states due to a federal law known as UIGEA prohibiting banks from processing payments related to gambling websites.


Legality of online poker has long been debated, yet its legality remains controversial. While poker may be considered gambling, playing it online does not constitute federal crime and the Department of Justice recently reversed their position on UIGEA to allow individual states to regulate it themselves.

Poker players should rejoice as this development indicates that federal government intervention will no longer threaten poker games. Unfortunately, however, issues still exist with state laws. If a poker site violates state regulations in its home state it could be forced to close down as it will no longer comply with local legislation and may face closure proceedings from local authorities.

However, playing poker online legally may not always be straightforward. Gaming industry regulation by state governments necessitates stringent identification standards as well as geolocation tracking measures; this applies especially to real money online poker games.


Online poker is a widely played and real money-gambling experience throughout the United States, regulated by state laws that vary significantly across states – some may impose strict prohibitions, while others have no regulations at all. Gambling operators also need to meet high identification and geolocation standards; software-as-a-service solutions are available that validate identity, verify adequate wager call funds and geolocate players.

In April 2011, the Department of Justice took an unprecedented action known as Black Friday when they seized major poker site domains and charged several individuals with money laundering and bank fraud charges. This event made waves across US market; since it, New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada legalized online poker while Pennsylvania and West Virginia passed laws for it as well as Pennsylvania passing interstate traffic-sharing rules that may see additional states follow suit, although such action will require a major political or social shift before happening.

Payment options

There are various methods for depositing and withdrawing money from an online poker site. Credit cards like Visa and Mastercard and e-wallets such as PayPal are the two most commonly used deposit/withdraw methods, while bank wires/drafts provide extra security but may cost more when withdrawing funds.

Prepaid cards offer another convenient method of adding funds to an online poker account. Available from several companies, these cards allow users to quickly and effortlessly add funds. Most regulated sites accept them.

Bitcoin has recently become available as an option on several poker sites, providing players with near instant deposits and complete anonymity – two features many find appealing. E-wallets like Neteller and Skrill also exist to provide efficient money transfer between accounts with minimal fees involved.


Online poker players should always take steps to protect themselves from malicious individuals attempting to steal their funds, such as using encryption protocols and VPN services. Additionally, it is wise to limit how much money exists in your poker account so as to play responsibly.

Two-step authentication processes can also provide extra protection. This involves entering an extra code after providing both username and password details; usually via text message on mobile device. This extra measure helps ensure only you can access your account, helping prevent it from being compromised by hackers.

Keep in mind that Federal law (UIGEA) prohibits funds transferred directly from US banks to online poker sites, making it more difficult for state-regulated sites to pool player liquidity which is an integral component of their industry. US players may require using third party processors so as to not violate Federal laws and continue playing.