Online poker was the king of the iGaming scene not too long ago, but a combination of dwindling player liquidity and a focus on sports betting and online casinos has made it an afterthought in statehouses and corporate headquarters. Poker players still pine for the days when tens of millions of people could log in and find nonstop action at multiple sites. That day may be coming, but it will require a massive shift in the current legal and regulated landscape with its ring-fenced player pools.
The answer to is online poker legal depends on the state, as each has its own unique laws and attitudes toward gambling. Some states have legalized and regulated online poker, including New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and West Virginia. It is likely that more will join the game in the future.
New York lawmakers continue to try and pass legislation that would make online poker legal, but they have yet to get anywhere. It’s not a matter of lack of interest from the state’s residents but rather one of the most restrictive and anti-gambling legislatures in the country.
Nebraska is another state that has stringent anti-gambling laws, making it unlikely that regulated online poker will come to the state in the near future. The state hasn’t even approved retail sports betting as of 2022.
Wisconsin is an interesting case because it has a number of tribal casinos that offer both live and online gaming. However, the state’s two largest casinos – Mohegan Sun and Mashantucket Pequot – don’t have their own iGaming sites and instead share the same platform with several other operators.
Kentucky continues to examine the issue of legalizing online poker, but a lack of consensus over so-called bad actor language has stalled progress in recent legislative sessions. The state’s various stakeholders – from tribes to licensed card rooms – have different ideas on how a potential iGaming industry should operate, which has created a lot of friction and makes it difficult for legislation to move forward.
Rhode Island is another state that hasn’t made any headway with its attempts to legalize online poker, but that doesn’t mean it will never do so. If the state revisits its online gambling laws, it will probably be through a voter referendum.
Wyoming is another state that doesn’t have legal online poker, but that doesn’t mean the game won’t eventually come to the state. The state does allow Native American-owned casinos and nonprofit “charitable gaming” casinos to offer a variety of real-money games.
There was some movement to legalize online poker in the state of North Dakota in 2021, but that failed to gain traction. The state’s anti-gambling law is very strict and it appears that any iGaming expansion will have to go through a lengthy process before the state considers it.