We take e detailed look at the evolution and current state of play for online gambling and online poker in US States.
Online Poker is Born & The Wire Act
Online Poker can be traced back to January 1998 with the first real money hand being dealt at Planet Poker, a poker site founded by Canadian Randy Blumer. In the same year Yahoo Games launched Texas Hold’em games for play money which was a very popular portal and instrumental in introducing this new poker variant to the mass market.
As Texas Hold’em began to take hold in casinos and the embryonic online poker market, it was the Paradise Poker launch in late 1999 which brought a more serious brand and game quality to the marketplace, and making them the number one poker site after one day of operations.
Considering this was a nascent industry it is not surprising the legal landscape was not developed and very unclear. Certainly the early brands were operating legally in jurisdictions like Costa Rica or Antigua, but the interpretation became less obvious when asking questions like:
‘Where did the bet actually take place?’ or
‘Is it legal for the player to participate in online poker or not?’, and
‘Is it legal in my state or is this a federal law?’.
Although certain powers may disagree, let’s also be aware that the laws of the United States are not global, and do not reach beyond their own borders (although their influence certainly does). This is also important to remember when looking at the legality of online poker.
During the days of Planet Poker and Paradise Poker, the brands operated on legal opinions which primarily considered the Federal Wire Act of 1961(or Interstate Act), which specifically refers to sporting events or contests in its language and refers to a wire communication facility, which was aimed at bookies in wire rooms connected with organized crime syndicates (obviously well before the internet was even conceived). Calling poker a sport seemed like a stretch and at the time there was also the strong belief that poker being a skill game should not be lumped in with betting games.
Mastercard Case – An Online Casino Joyride Tests Wire Act
It was on November 20, 2002 the Federal Wire Act as it relates to poker (and casino) was finally tested in a significant U.S. court and it was positive news for the industry. The United States Court of Appeals,Fifth Circuit decided that some defending online casinos (offering casino and poker) were not liable to repay some disgruntled gamblers since they were not illegal under the definition of the Wire Act (18 U.S.C. § 1084), which the judge opined clearly does not prohibit non-sports internet gambling. This was very positive news for the industry indeed.
UIEGA – Finally a Federal Bill Slips Through the Cracks
For most of the early years of online poker it seemed a U.S. federal bill was introduced, only to die each year as sessions adjourned. This all changed in September 14, 2006 when the senate passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in a hurriedly fashion and without any traditional discussion or vote. It was an amendment to an unrelated legislation (the Port SAFE Act) pushed through the senate floor on the last day before the session closed for the summer. The language of the Act focused on payments, essentially placing liability on financial institutions and banks and forcing them to proactively restrict all transactions that could be gambling related. Although the act mostly yielded to pre-existing laws to determine legality of the game in question, it did target online poker by stating that any game subject to chance is gambling. In addition, it clarified that betting takes place where the user is located and not on the remote server (an argument sometimes made by operators).
UIEGA whipped the industry into a frenzy, forcing most operators (in particular the publicly traded ones) to exit the U.S. before the October 13, 2006 deadline. Brands such as Party Poker, Paradise Poker, and 888 all exited and saw their player liquidities plummet.
DOJ Launches Attack on European Institutions
Looking to strike while the iron was hot, the Department of Justice subpoenaed several investment banks including HSBC, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and Dresdner Kleinwort, all having transacted with various publicly traded companies (all UK listed). The DOJ also engaged in a far reaching fishing expedition which was widely panned in Europe considering that US authorities were well out of their jurisdiction and ultimately had no authority to enforce their laws across the Atlantic.
Public Brands Settle with DOJ
Shortly thereafter, the pressure continued to yield dividends, culminating in a series of ‘mi culpa’ non-prosecution agreements (corporate settlement pleas) starting first with Party Poker in April 2009 in the amount of $105 million and later settled with Sportingbet (owner of Paradise Poker) in September 2010 for $33 million. Besides the cash grab, US authorities were able to claim admission of illegal gambling, bank fraud, wire fraud… but the reality is these were non-consequential pleas designed to give the impression underlying laws were successfully enforced.
Party Poker Founding Shareholder Pleads Guilty
The DOJ pressure did yield results, starting with the stunning plea by Party Poker founding shareholder and software chief, Anurag Dikshit in December 2008.. Mr. Dikshit flew to a courtroom in Manhattan from India to plead guilty to wire charges and agree to a whopping $300 million cash settlement. It is widely believed that Mr. Dikshit caved in to intense pressure, and was highly criticised by industry veterans. For example, key founders Ruth and Russ Parasol never considered any admission of guilt and certainly not to wire charges which was the foundation of their legal opinion since day one.
Poker Stars & Full Tilt Reign Supreme – European brands challenged
While European based brands were dealing with settlements for pre UIGEA activity, this left the privately owned brands of Poker Stars, Full Tilt, Absolute Poker, and Ultimate Bet to fight it out in the less competitive landscape. Poker Stars and Full Tilt were the leading brands in the USA from 2007-2010, and surprisingly were allowed to continue .net advertising on the major networks despite the new federal law. Payments were an issue, but these companies miscoded the required 7995 credit card code and claimed poker deposits were jewelry and golf ball purchases.
While Poker Stars had the best of two worlds, leveraging their American player pool to attract European and global players, European plcs had a very frustrating time competing, while also positioning for the early stages of regulation. Party Poker (with 10% global share) was the European leader during this time, with iPoker and Ongame networks claiming 2nd and 3rd spot for European based liquidity.
Although there is no public data for the private companies during this time it is widely known that Poker Stars benefited greatly with the lack of serious competitors in USA (except Full Tilt)
Black Friday – The unfair advantage comes to an end
Like all good things, the glory days came to a dramatic conclusion on April 15, 2011, a day poker players remember vividly as Black Friday, whereby the U.S. government indicted Poker Stars, Full Tilt, and Absolute Poker founders criminally for bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling. If this weren’t enough, a tidy $3 billion in penalties to boot. The charges were very much focused on payments and fraud, especially considering the miscoding of credit cards, and the co-operation of a US based bank in Utah.
DOJ Says the Wire Act Covers Sports Only Giving NJ the Green Light
On September 20, 2011 the DOJ was asked to opine on the legality of New York and Illinois state lottery sales via the internet as it related to the Wire Act, as the states did not want to violate this federal law. The opinion of the DOJ memorandum was that the Wire Act relates only to Sporting Events or Contests, and thus lotteries would not violate it. More importantly, online poker had finally broken free of the Wire Act millstone, and this opinion was exactly what New Jersey needed in order to move forward with their online licensing plans.
PokerStars Corporate Settlement & Mark Scheinberg Clear
Soon after taking control of the Poker Stars and Full Tilt .com domains, the DOJ soon realized that Full Tilt was quickly spiralling out of control, having failed to ring fence their player’s deposits as per the regulatory requirement, it was looking more like a classic ponzi scheme.
This turned out to be a very fortunate circumstance for Poker Stars as they were able to save the day by having all corporate charges dismissed by forfeiting $547 million relating to their misdeeds in the US, and even more important for all parties involved, Poker Stars agreed to pay $184 million to reimburse all player funds that Full Tilt management stole from their player deposit reserves.
With shrewd negotiations Poker Stars as a company received a clean bill of health including a green light for their eventual re-entry into the U.S. market, and Mark Scheinberg, the founder’s son was cleared of any wrongdoing (unlike his father who remained indicted on personal criminal charges)
In August 2012 a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled on a case where Lawrence DiCristina had been offering Texas Hold’em games in a warehouse, and Judge Jack Weinstein declared that Texas Hold’em is a game of skill, which was a major ruling for the game of poker. However in 2014 the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case and therefore conveniently avoided the issue altogether.
Plea Deals, Jail, and Wrist Slaps
It has been almost ten years since Black Friday and only two individuals representing poker brand operations have served jail time, including Brent Beckley who did 10 months in prison and Scott Tom, the Absolute head who did only one week in jail, and both were key figures in the very shady operations of Absolute Poker.
Many of the heavier sentences were placed on individuals acting as payment processors (third parties who miscode the credit cards), with Ira Rubin being sentenced to three years (by far the steepest penalty of any individual in the indictment). Ray Bitar, the CEO of Full Tilt, was spared prison time due to his heart condition and frail health (which seemed to recover nicely at this moment in time). Many, however, have effectively received ‘wrist slaps’ and have agreed to charges focusing on the Illegal Gambling Business Act, UIEGA, and bank fraud.
At the time of writing, the last man standing is Isai Scheinberg, the founder of Poker Stars, who awaits sentencing in Manhattan scheduled for sometime in the summer of 2020. He has been holed up in the luxury Sofitel hotel in Manhattan, as the only guest along with his wife, complaining about the lack of services at the hotel since it has effectively shut down due to the covid-19 virus (He wants to be transported to California). His fate is very likely to be a hefty fine in the billions of dollars, and a wrist slap with no jail time.
DOJ Wire Act Reversal Met With Challenges
In January 2019, the Department of Justice changed their mind and wrote an opinion stating that they now believe the Wire Act covers non-sports related gaming which would include online poker. This opinion was met with much suspicion by the industry and widely seen as being influenced by lobbyists for the brick and mortar casino industry.
It also infuriated New Jersey online gaming regulators prompting NJ Attorney General Attorney General Gurbir Grewal to fight the ruling in the First District Federal Court of Appeals. Understandable, considering the DOJ flip flop essentially makes their operations illegal (Since most operators are sharing liquidity across states now).
The New Hampshire lotteries also didn’t take kindly to the DOJ opinion, taking them to District court in June 2019, and winning with Judge Paul Barbadoro concluding that the Wire Act does not cover all forms of online gambling (including poker).
It seems unlikely the courts will side with DOJ, and it is highly unlikely that regulated states will bow down to this desperate attempt to reverse their own previous legal interpretation of a poorly written outdated federal law. It seems they are more content prosecuting more classic crimes like bank fraud and relying on state law violations which triggers the Illegal Gambling Business Act.
Regulated Online Poker – The New Era
New Jersey Leads the Charge
Having watched Atlantic City’s fortunes crumble over several decades, Senator Raymond Lesniak who initially pushed his co-sponsored A2578 bill (and after failing previous two years), and introduced the bill to the house Feb 16th 2012 with the support of sponsors John Burzichelli, Vincent Prieto, and Ruben Ramos Jr. The bill then passed the house floor December 17th with 48 to 25 in favour. The bill was quickly passed days later on December 20, 2012 by New Jersey senators 33 to 3 in favour of licensing online poker and casino, and signed by Governor Chris Christie the same day.
The bill gave new hope for Atlantic City’s fledgling casinos, giving all licensed casinos the right to offer online poker and online casinos subject to a 15% tax on gross gaming revenue (compared with 8% for land based casinos). Certain conditions were required, including the fact the state constitution required all websites to be physically located in Atlantic City. In addition, restrictions to control underage gambling and the use of geo-location technology to identify if a customer crosses state lines. The idea was that preventing interstate play kept the federal bills at bay, even though the DOJ had previously given the all clear re. The Wire Act.
All that was needed was for casinos to launch their games, but with one major problem. The primitive nature of online gambling in the U.S. meant that European operators were a decade ahead in their technologies, software, marketing, and operations. For this reason, Atlantic City casinos quickly partnered with jubilant European brands that wanted a chance to enter the American market.
In November 2013 Atlantic City casinos and respective partners launched their online brands as follows::
- Borgata & Party Poker
- Borgata Casino
- Borgata Poker
- NJ.Party Poker
- Caesars & 888
- Caesars Casino
- Harrahs Casino
- Tropicana & Virgin
- Tropicana Casino
- Virgin Casino
- Trump Plaza & Betfair
- Trump Taj Mahal & Ultimate Gaming
- Golden Nugget
- Golden Nugget Casino
- Golden Nugget Poker
Liquidity Sharing Commences
In May 2018, WSOP began combining their New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada player pools in a cross state liquidity share initiative, breaking the early concerns of interstate poker.
Sports Betting Now In Play
In May 2018, a major Supreme Court decision against the NCAA effectively repealing PASPA – the Federal Sports Betting Ban – now presents an opportunity to move to regulating many forms of gambling online, since the sports betting legalization wave is expected to be broad and rapid and may accelerate poker and iGaming in general. Sports Bill passed June 2018 after success of PASPA litigation. Sports bill passed, now awaiting signature from Governor
USA Poker Legislation by State
Poker in Alabama
No Legal Online Poker
As one of the most conservative states, it’s highly unlikely that Alabama legislators will ever introduce a bill on gambling in general, much less online poker. However players in the state can access offshore poker sites (often using cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin to make transactions). Read our guide: Alabama Poker Legislation & Laws.
Poker in Arkansas
No Legal Online Poker
Arkansas is quite a conservative state and there’s little chance that legislation for a local online poker industry will be discussed at state level any time soon. However players in the state can access offshore poker sites, often using cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin to make transactions. Read our guide: Arkansas Poker Legislation & Laws.
Poker in Arizona
No Legal Online Poker
State authorities don’t look too favorably on gambling or the game of poker in Arizona, and since there has been no effort to regulate the game at state level, it seems unlikely that any moves will be made to legislate for the online poker industry. Read our Arizona poker guide: Arizona Poker Laws & Legislation .
Poker in Alaska
No Legal Online Poker
with such a low population (of less than 740,000) – a locally-based online gambling industry would struggle to survive. Poker in Alaska.
Legal State. Poker is legal in Nevada. Liquidity sharing with Delaware and New Jersey
Legal State – The 4th Legal State – Used an Omnibus/Many Gaming Verticals approach to getting Law passed / AT TIME OF WRITING: Licensing regime due for roll out in H2 2018
Online Poker bill failed in 2017 and “expansions of Gaming”, like Sports, will need a statewide voter referendum. CA still faces possible re-introduction of Poker Bill or Omnibus/All-Gaming types Bill as post-PASPA response, particularly since an Omnibus Bill could include relatively more popular Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS). Current legislative landscape in California
Liberalization in B&M, with a new jointly owned Mohegan/Foxwoods Casino opening soon, means there is need for incremental revenue – which online brings. Sports bets already pre-approved by Legislature. Online lottery has a bill under review now, but poker, daily fantasy sports and casino could happen fast here if an omnibus approach is taken to the legislation. Note – need for poker pool-sharing due to State’s small population of only 3.5m residents
Gambling liberalisation across the State but no specific interactive gaming moves – yet. Worth noting FL Governor is not a supporter of Online Gaming. Poker Laws in Florida .
As a conservative state with seemingly strict views on gambling in general, it’s no surprise that there’s some confusion as to the legality of online poker in Georgia. Here we take a look and what you can and can’t do within state lines.
While Georgia is one of the most conservative states with strict anti-gambling laws, residents should have no worries about playing poker online. As mentioned earlier, there have been no arrests ever made within the state relating to playing online poker. Better yet, is the fact that there are several offshore poker providers that allow Georgians to register on their platforms.
Find out more: Georgia Gambling Laws.
Hawaii has some very strict gambling laws, mainly addressed via the ‘Offenses Against Public Health and Morals’ Code. And while the state has no licensed poker sites, players in the state do play at a number of offshore US-Facing sites.
Although Iowa does have a pretty good bricks and mortar betting industry, there are laws in place concerning gambling, and some quite strict punishments for unlawful gambling. Offshore poker providers however continue to service the state and there has never been an arrest made in Idaho for playing online poker.
Senate Bill 3432 introduced for Sports Betting in advance of PASPA Repeal – may now be debated with poker and casino. AT TIME OF WRITING: Senate Bills S1667 and S1531, covering DFS and Online Gaming still remain in debate, and omnibus discussion has been raised. There was a move, post-PASPA, to conjoin the DFS, Sports and Online Gaming debates, and add all of them *as an amendment* to the existing land-based casino expansion Bill, titled S7. The newly-amended S7 failed to pass the Senate on voting. Find out more about Illinois Poker laws & Regulations.
The Hawkeye State is offers a number of options for gamblers. Iowans can play online poker without fear of any real punishment from the authorities. Offshore poker providers continue to service the state and there has never been an arrest made in the state of Iowa for playing online poker. View Iowa Poker Laws.
State casinos have seen revenues decline over the last five years, particularly under outgoing Governor Pence (now Vice President). With Pence gone, IN becomes a likelier candidate for allowing the existing casino industry to innovate and move business online to prop up flagging revenues. Current Indiana poker laws.
Unfortunately for Kansans, the once wild and free state is now a little more prohibitive when it comes to gambling. The state laws make practically every form of real money gambling illegal besides those which are authorized and regulated by the state. Poker players who want to play online have no ‘legal’ option – and must play on one of the US-Friendly offshore poker sites.
After the state of Kentucky tried to fine PokerStars $870 million over residents’ losses back in 2015, it’s fair to say that most residents of the Bluegrass State aren’t too sure of the legality of online poker. The state also tried to seize 141 gambling-related domains back in 2008 and while some sites reached settlements with the state, others refused to budge and had their domains returned to them.
All of this resulted in quite a few offshore poker providers pulling out of the state as it just didn’t seem worth the trouble. This means that there are now very few online poker options available for local players in Kentucky.
Bill SB322 on agenda that could introduce online gambling – but only by way of a voter referendum. Read our Louisiana poker legislation page for more details.
Homegames: In May of 2016,the state legislature passed HB127 which allowed home games. These games must not have wagers of more than $1,000 in a 24-hour period. Home games must also be 100% social in that no one, other than the winner of a hand, profits from the game. Nobody has ever been charged or convicted for playing online poker in Maryland.
Several online Bills over recent years, in line with large scale “Player Research” surveys by the State. None has worked, but greater gaming liberalization of recent years, and new properties for MGM and Wynn means progress may not be so far off.: S200 Bill is open for debate now, looking to legalize and regulate online gaming – as with many other States, an omnibus approach is being talked up to include DFS, Sports, Poker, Casino.
Significant Tribal and B&M Casino issues hamper moves in MI generally. Bill H4926 re-introduced in 2018. Section 16 of Bill H4926 has become known as “the poison pill” due to its assumptions regarding Federal Law changes and the potential future competitive differences between the Tribes and commercial casinos, for online gaming and poker. This section was eased by bill sponsor Rep. Brandt Iden, leading to a 68-40 vote in favour of establishing an Internet Gaming Act in MI – this now moves to Senate vote in Fall 2018.
Our foray into Michigan law tells us that the gambling laws are in dire need of an overhaul. The language and the laws are archaic and confusing and we struggle to see how any of them could be used to target online poker players.
The state does have a history of going after offshore gambling websites. In 2009, the state requested that ISPs block specific web domains. However, the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association disagreed and fought the order. Under intense public scrutiny, the state decided to withdraw their request and now offshore poker platforms can operate freely within the state.
Had Sports legislation ready *in advance of* New Jersey’s PASPA victory. An omnibus legislative approach may now promote further moves for Daily Fantasy Sports, Casino and Poker. The FAQ page on the Mississippi Gambling Commission’s website we see that playing poker is illegal unless in a casino. It also states that online gambling is illegal, although players in the state do play on offshore poker websites.
With no live poker industry to speak of, online poker seems to be the only option for residents of the Cornhusker State. But is online poker actually legal in Nebraska? The laws in the Nebraska statutes fail to mention poker or online poker, so we take a look at the laws regarding gambling in general in our Nebraska poker guide.
As home to the casino capital of the world, the state of Nevada is a veritable paradise for real-money gamblers. But what about the online industry? Can Neveadans play online poker as easily as they can the live game?
Nevada’s gambling laws can be found in NRS 463 – Licensing and Control of Gambling while there are some additional provisions elsewhere in NRS 465 – Crimes and Liabilities Concerning Gambling. This is where we find the rules that relate to regular players in the state who choose to gamble on the internet.
The New Hampshire Revised Statutes are anything but clear when it comes to the topic of online gambling. In fact, the current laws don’t even mention real-money online gaming at all.
Failed on passing Online Gaming bill in 2017. Bill H562, for Online Gambling, is being tried again in 2018 but has more hurdles due to the just having been passed in 2017, Keno and iLottery, and one of the bill’s sponsors facing criminal legal charges. There is also a Bill, S242, for legalizing Poker in land-based casinos on the agenda
Broad gambling liberalization at B&M Level over recent years. Bill A520 being debated Q2 2018 – Potential for Poker to be combined with Sports Betting after PASPA. Casino unlikely due to need for public referendum. Find out more about poker legislation in New York.
New Mexico has some of the strictest gambling laws of any state with legalized gambling. These laws can be found in Chapter 30 of the New Mexico Statutes, Article 19. There are exceptions exceptions to the law including contests of skill, speed, strength, or endurance, lotteries, and “betting otherwise permitted by law.”
The Garden State is one of the few states with a regulated online poker industry.
The relevant part of the law for poker players in North Carolina can be found in Chapter 14, Article 37, “Lotteries, Gaming, Bingo and Raffles.” This is where we find section G.S. 14-292.
There are quite a few live card rooms in the Treasure State, but what about online poker rooms? Can Montanans play poker online without breaking any laws? While most states still adhere to gambling laws written long before the internet, Montana is one of the exceptions. The state legal code specifically mentions internet gambling which is good news for us as it makes understanding the legality of online poker in Montana so much easier.
The most relevant information can be found in Title 23 “Parks, Recreation, Sports, and Gambling,” Chapter 5 “Gambling”. Not all gambling is prohibited.
Essentially, the law states that anyone who risks anything of value in a game of chance is gambling. Now, whether or not poker is a game of chance is up for debate. Find out more about gambling laws in Missouri.
Although the state doesn’t look too kindly on illegal operators, the punishments aren’t all that severe. Even so, these misdemeanors can trigger the activation of federal codes as we saw on “Black Friday” in April 2011. This was when the state indicted people connected to PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker. These cases also led to civil suits that cost millions of dollars.
This is why some offshore poker companies have decided to leave New York State. Having said that, there are still several offshore poker sites which offer services to New Yorkers.
There are parts of the North Dakota legal code that mention charitable poker, but that’s as close as we get to anything of note on the game. So, as we have done with many other states, we need to take a look at the North Dakota gambling laws in general to see if we can find anything relevant to online poker.
There are very few states that have passed legislation that specifically mentions online gambling, Oregon is one of those few. The relevant legislation can be found in the state’s legal code in Volume 4 of the Oregon Revised Statutes, Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 167, General Welfare and Animal Offenses.
Although Oklahoma has allowed more gambling activities in recent years, the Sooner State is still quite strict on real-money gambling. To understand how strict they are, we’re going to take a look at Title 21 – Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 38, Gambling. As you might expect, the law comes down much harder on those who run illegal gambling activities than it does on the individual player as we see in section 21-941
The state laws that apply to gambling in Pennsylvania are quite concise and pretty straightforward. Although they don’t mention poker specifically, we can be quite certain that poker is included as a form of gambling.
A small State, but one with a Casino industry – likely to be impacted by Massachusetts liberalisation of Gaming, and will need to respond. As with many other legal codes across the states, the Rhode Island laws don’t mention online poker in any way. So it’s up to us to try to determine the legality of the game based on the existing gambling laws.
If there’s one thing we’re sure of with regards to gambling in South Carolina, it’s the fact that the state authorities do not like it. This is apparent from the comprehensive list of laws the Palmetto State has against the practice. The relevant South-Carolina gambling laws can be found in the South Carolina Code of Laws, Title 16 – Crimes and Offenses, Chapter 19 – Gambling and Lotteries.
It may be the home of Texas Hold’em but there are surprisingly few places in the Lone Star State where Texans can play live poker. But is the same true of online poker? There is little movement in gaming legislation generally, and particularly online.
The Volunteer State has no live casino industry to speak of, but what does that mean for online poker? Tennessee is a state with very limited live gambling options and so it’s no surprise the legal code is quite strict when it comes to all forms of gambling. The relevant laws can be found in Title 39, Criminal Offenses, Chapter 17, Offenses Against Public Health, Safety and Welfare, Part 5, Gambling.
Utah legislators have gone to great lengths to make it absolutely clear that they do not want anyone gambling online or offline. however the state is still serviced by many offshore poker sites.
The Green Mountain State has a very limited land-based gambling industry, but Vermont doesn’t have a specific law that deals with online card games, but it does mention poker on one occasion. Unfortunately, this is in relation to a lottery game that features the word poker in its name.
The state of Virginia takes a pretty hard line against most forms of gambling and this if reflected in the state legal code.
Existing anti-gaming laws make introducing new online gaming legislation very difficult. It must be noted that while Washington has made it a felony to play online poker within its state borders, the authorities have never actually arrested any online poker players, and players in the state continue to play on offshore poker sites which service Americans.
There are no specific laws relating to poker in the state of Wisconsin. So to determine the legality of the online game, we need to take a look at the laws for gambling in Wisconsin.
Northern neighbor State, Pennsylvania, just became the 4th legal online State…and PA has put pressure on WV B&M racinos, etc, for years due to the sprawl of B&M Gaming there, currently. WV intro’d online gaming bill in 2017, and will need to do “something” about the threat from PA. Note the State will need inter-State compacts and pool sharing due to a small population of only 1.8m. Bill H3067 to legalize online gambling still on agenda. While the West Virginia legal code contains laws relating to video gaming terminals, table games, and other forms of state-authorized gambling, there’s no mention of online poker.