"I want to find
legal poker sites to play online for real money. Where can I
First of all, let me preface this
response by assuring you that I am not an attorney and do not
pretend to provide any sort of legal advice. However, the simple
truth is that online gambling is, and always has been, in a gray
legal area. More specifically, the laws surrounding strictly online
poker site operators have never been clarified.
Despite the fact that the US government
occasionally decides to pursue legal action against offshore
sportsbetting sites, there has never been a single documented case
of a US resident being prosecuted for playing online poker.
Even if some antiquated law against betting exists in random cities
and states, it has never been enforced. As long as players pay taxes
on all of their income, both gambling and otherwise, the government
has little concern with what you do with your own money online.
So, what was all the fuss about when the
Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was signed into law? The
most important conclusion is that it had nothing to do with whether
or not legal poker sites for US players still existed. The UIGEA
tries to enforce restrictions on the way banks do business with
online gambling sites.
The corrupt 11th hour passing of this
bill makes it more difficult for poker players to fund their
accounts but, fortunately, numerous easy methods still exist for
hard-working tax-paying citizens to spend their money how they see
fit. There are plenty of poker sites legal in their respective jurisdiction to
What Makes a "Legal Poker
Unfortunately, until the hypocritical
domestic laws are changed in the US no online gambling site (poker
or otherwise) is going to be stamped with a seal of approval from
the DOJ. However, as I've tried to cover above, simply playing at
these sites isn't illegal. What I consider to be a legal poker site
is one that complies with independent random number generator
testing agencies and is certified by its relevant home government.
All of the poker sites we link to fall under that category.
Another positive is that the countries
hosting our listed online poker sites aren't third-world tax havens
handing out certifications to any shady outfit with a big wallet.
Many legal poker sites are owned and operated out of Canada, Great
Britain, the Netherlands, or one of their territories. Those certainly aren't
governments with lax rules about who they do business with. The US
is way behind the times when it comes to the optimal way to handle
online gambling: regulate the games to ensure they're honest,
implement safeguards for underage and problem gambling, and tax the
revenues to go towards other civil services.
Where Can You Play Online
Poker Easily and Safely from the US?
Below, I've listed my top suggestions
for US players looking to safely play online poker for real money.
Besides the regulations that these sites abide by, one of the most
important issues US players face is easily depositing and
withdrawing from their accounts. The following sites all have viable
banking methods. Finally, keep in mind that these are only legal poker
sites in their own jurisdictions so you should check with your
local laws prior to playing for real money.
BETONLINE - Initially licensed in Costa Rica back in
2001 under a different brand name
moved to Panama in 2004, where it has since maintained its
license and headquarters as a legal poker site.
claims to have had an industry presence as a sportsbook
since 1991. They are based out of one of the largest and
most up-to-date facilities in the industry with several
hundred employees subject to annual inspection. They
recently expanded their offerings to include an independent
poker platform, which accepts all US players.
has mostly built a rock-solid reputation over the years due
to quick payouts, reliable deposit methods, and personalized
As a new legal poker site
licensed in Panama, BetOnline
has always accepted all US players and is the only remaining
US poker room to offer both e-check and block-free credit
card deposits. Making an e-check deposit is essentially like
writing a check online and doesn't require signing up with a
third-party e-wallet. While credit card deposits are offered
at every US poker room
is the only one to process them at a near-100% success rate.
Payouts are also offered in several more options than
competing poker rooms with funds delivered within a week for
Besides the easy deposits and
payouts the other main draw of
is the extremely loose player base with flop percentages
often exceeding 40% for full 10-seated cash games. As the
poker section is quite new the player traffic is also
impressive, rivaling the size of longer-tenured US poker
rooms. The bonus for our new
includes free tournament cash and a 25% instant cash bonus
in the sports section.
Positives: fully licensed in Panama, accepts all US players,
excellent credit card deposit rates, loose
tables, e-check deposits.
Read full review.
Block-free credit card deposits are accepted from
Our Exclusive Bonus:
tournament entries and 25% sports bonus
SPORTSBOOK POKER - With deep industry roots going
back to 1996,
Sportsbook Poker is licensed by
the Antiguan government and has won numerous "Best of" US
gaming site awards. As is the case with most of the
long-tenured all-in-one gaming sites
the parent company have a history
of strong assets and liquidity. One of the most significant
developments was the acquisition of UK Gambling commission
license, which gives further credence to this being a legal
poker site as it is one of the most sought-after gaming
licenses in the world. This is one of the better all-around
US options with strong traffic, promotions, and credit card
deposits that are rarely declined.
positive of this site on the player side is the extremely loose player base,
which is certainly one of the most inexperienced online.
With online poker's largest non-US sites seemingly tightening up
more and more each day, it's refreshing to find a legal
poker site in
Sportsbook Poker that still serves up the good
old-fashioned online fish. Our new
players also receive a
no-strings-attached 10-25% instant sports/casino cash bonus
on their first deposit in addition to another 200% earned
through poker gameplay. In terms of easy deposits,
this is one of the only legal poker sites to accept US
credit cards block-free.
Best aspects: licensed and located in Antigua, compliant with the UK
Gambling Commission, instant cash bonus, US credit
cards accepted block-free.
Read full review.
US credit cards are not blocked by almost any issuing bank.
Our Exclusive Bonus:
up to $2,000 + 10-25% instantly
- One of the more popular legal mainstays in the US market has
(previously known as Bodog). The 2012 sale to a separate
corporate entity and subsequent brand name change to
helps to secure its safe status in the US. Once
considered a new and niche poker site,
Bovada is now
one of the most popular US poker rooms and our current
They also have
one of the more unique histories in terms of licensing and
regulation. Originally based in Antigua, Bovada has
maintained that license for international gaming but has
secured an additional license with the Kahnawake Gaming
Commission in Canada. This allows them to
offer gaming to North Americans and be accepted as a legal
poker site by the Quebec government.
Ultimately, as a combination sportsbook/casino/poker
is as close to a mainstream legal poker site as you can get
with sections of their enterprise dealing with everything
from music publishing to martial arts fighting. In terms of
the poker room
have one of the most user-friendly software packages, a
historically young and aggressive (read maniacal and ready
to gamble) player base, and caters to the US market with
an exclusive deposit system using existing credit cards. US
withdrawal times are also especially noteworthy with checks
arriving in less than a week. Our
new Bovada players
also receive an increased 100% bonus an additional 50% free
bet in the sports section in order to win additional bonus
loose player base, strong bonus, licensed in Canada and
Read full review...
Near-100% success rate for US credit and debit cards.
Our Exclusive Bonus:
to $1,000 + 50% free bet
SPORTSBETTING POKER - The path of the current
SportsBetting Poker towards becoming a legal poker site
has been an interesting one. As one of the original names in
online betting back in the 1990s the parent company of
SportsBetting Poker had taken a dubious path towards
neglect and outright theft of player funds following the US
legislative issues of 2006 and 2011. It originally held a
trusted license from Antigua and Barbuda, a common territory
of gaming companies.
Group purchased and resurrected the brand name in 2012. The
purchase also allowed
SportsBetting Poker to obtain legal poker site status
from the Panama government, a rare but powerful country to
hold a license from. Panama typically exceeds the
regulation, documentation, and licensing standards required
by territories with more licensees. The new owners have gone
so far as to refunding players that had been denied winnings
from the previous owners, which shows a commitment to
rebuilding a positive reputaiton.
For players searching for a
legal poker site
this is a strong US option thanks to its
excellent deposit rates, extremely profitable cash games,
and sufficiently-staffed telephone customer service center.
This is one of the very few remaining legal poker sites that
can boast a near-100% deposit rate for credit cards, debit
cards, and even prepaid gift cards to maintain anonymity.
There are also no fees involved with any deposit method.
SportsBetting Poker is also now on a stable aged poker
network with some of the loosest cash games in any market,
largely filled with low-experience wanderers from the casino
or sports section. Players visiting from our site also
receive free tournament dollars and an instant cash bonus
available immediately in the sports section.
Positives: located and regulated in Panama, crediting unpaid players
from old owners,
near-100% deposit rates, excellent payout system.
Read full review.
Credit card, debit card, and prepaid gift card deposit rates are
Our Exclusive Bonus:
Free real money for tournaments and instant sports bonus
POKER ROOMS BELOW HAVE CLOSED
TO US PLAYERS OR ARE NOT RECOMMENDED AT THIS TIME
- Another independent US poker room operating its own
Cake Poker, which formally opened to new players in
2006. It is deemed a legal poker site by the government of
Curacao, where it is fully licensed and regulated under
local laws. Curacao's e-gaming licensing commission has been
around since 1996 and actually hosts the servers for
All US players are accepted and
is actually one of the only US poker rooms offering a
checking account deposit service.
The better aspects of
include an easy-to-cashout bonus, soft competition, and
streamlined software. This total bonus from this legal poker
site is 110% for our new players, which is competitive with
other top offers online. More important than the actual
bonus amount, however, is the fact that it is easily cashed
out through minimal gameplay. The Cake Poker
rewards system is fairly generous with $5-10 of bonus
released per hour being realistic at the $1/2 NL level. The
Cake Poker cash game traffic has also made a comeback
with about 10 active NL tables per limit up to the $1/2
licensed in Curacao, bonus is easily cashed out, loose tables.
Cake Poker is not currently
accepting new US players. Please visit our
poker room reviews page for a list of all US poker rooms still
PLAYERS ONLY POKER - One of the strongest new legal poker
sites in terms of promotions is
Only Poker, which is open to all US players. This network has
been active since 1996 making it one of the oldest gaming
Only Poker is also licensed and regulated by the Netherlands
Antilles government, specifically located on the island of
Curacao. It is always especially encouraging to see such a
large government, in this case the Netherlands, sanction
New players will also have little trouble funding
their accounts as
Only Poker processed US credit and debit cards with a
near-100% acceptance rate. It is certainly a positive that
even large US banks don't classify the payment processors as
unacceptable transactions. Finally, one of the biggest
positives is the poor player base that dwarfs typical
average pot sizes and flop percentages. While
Only Poker doesn't have the name recognition of the
larger legal poker sites it is still a well-rounded choice
for US players.
Best aspects: licensed and regulated by the Netherlands, large bonus,
instant cash bonus, all US credit cards
- Originally hosted on a network once relying on gimmicky freerolls as
its main promotion
Lock Poker has grown to become one of the few remaining
powerhouses in the US market. Its legal poker site status is
provided by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. The KGC is
located in Quebec, Canada, and is one of the largest and
most trusted online gaming commissions in the world. After
outgrowing its origins on the Merge network Lock Poker
purchased the old Cake network in 2012 and is now the
flagship brand for what is now known as the Revolution
now hosts tens of skins and a respectable number of active
games and its network has always accepted all US players.
Besides being a legal poker site
in its territory the biggest draws of
Lock Poker for US players include the extremely soft tables,
a sizable cashier, and a strong rewards system. Typical flop
percentages often exceed 25-30%, which is largely unheard of
in the current online poker climate and signifies that a
larger percentage of the table regularly sees flops. The
Lock Poker cashier also accepts credit cards at an
above-average rate. The bonus for our players is 200%, good up to
$4,000 making it the largest total value in the US market. Cash games are also busy up to the $1/2 level with a
few active games at larger stakes.
Positives: fully licensed in Canada, soft games, large bonus.
FULL TILT POKER - One of the best-known legal poker sites
still open to US players is
Poker. They have the largest and most respected number of
professionals and are a poker-only operation, which
shouldn't be overlooked. This site has
an enormous player base thanks to its aggressive marketing
approach, one of the best software packages online, and a
general feeling of professionalism. With the enormous
Poker experienced from continuing to service US players you'll find
at least 10-20 tournaments per hour and dozens of ring games
active at every level.
Earning its place on our poker
Poker is fully licensed and regulated by the Kahnawake Gaming
Commission. The KGC is a sovereign nation within the borders
of Quebec, Canada and shares a positive relationship with
the provincial government. The KGC is the only body to
officially license online gaming in North America and has
grown to host over half of all gaming sites online. Another
big positive is that all US Full Tilt
Poker players can deposit directly via their checking accounts.
The fact that they are able to offer this service alone
speaks to their excellent reputation and legal history.
most professionals, eCheck deposits, licensed and regulated in
Canada, large bonus.
PokerStars has now become the largest online poker room in the world thanks
to its continued support of the US market.
PokerStars could also be considered a legal poker site because
of its poker-only stance. Poker has repeatedly been ruled a
skill game by US courts and I believe
PokerStars has avoided US government attention largely because
of its lack of casino games. Players should also be
comforted by the fact that
PokerStars is regulated by the Isle of Man, a British Crown
dependency. Another massive draw is the ability to accept
deposits directly from any US checking account.
PokerStars has always been revered for its consistent games, sharp
software, and massive tournaments. Players would most likely
be completely satisfied if this was the only legal poker
site available. It's one thing to simply attract the most
players through advertising and another thing to keep that
player base loyal. The excellent payout times, enormous
amount of active games, and the general smooth operation
PokerStars the go-to site for new players. If poker sites are able to
obtain a legal license from the US in the future, I imagine
PokerStars would probably be one of the first to obtain one.
Positives: highest poker traffic, licensed and regulated by Isle of
Man, tons of tournaments.
US checking account deposits are accepted directly through the
ULTIMATE BET - Now more than a decade old,
has been one of the most popular legal poker sites since the beginning.
Despite the recent insider scandals players seem to be
returning back in droves now that they've merged with
to create the CEREUS network. Interestingly, the
scandal actually helped to prove that licensing is a
powerful necessity in the online poker world. The
Canada-based Kahnawake Gaming Commission, who provides the Ultimate Bet
license, quickly threatened to withdraw their hosting if
didn't follow specific steps to remedy their security
faults. Players can at least be assured that this poker room
is under scrutiny from the KGC.
shows no signs of abandoning the US market and has still
thrived as a legal poker site. Many regular players here
have remained loyal for years due to the clean software, VIP
system, and the general quality of the games hosted. While
the Ultimate Bet
player base tends to be a bit tighter than average this can
benefit aggressive players and those wishing for gameplay
that resembles actual cardroom play. The cashier is also one
of the more robust online with the big highlight being
eCheck deposits that allows direct checking account
licensed and regulated in Canada, excellent tournament schedule, large bonus.
ABSOLUTE POKER -
is now essentially an online poker cousin of
as they share the same tables and tournaments under the
CEREUS network name. While they were previously implied in
the recent security scandal with UB, Absolute Poker
seems to be making an effort to clean up behind-the-scenes.
As a legal poker site,
falls under the watchful eyes of the Kahnawake Gaming
Commission. As a tribal territory in Quebec, they have the
support of the Canadian government and are responsible for
licensing and testing hundreds of online gaming operation.
Fortunately for players looking for legal reassurance, Absolute Poker
has been forced to meet even more stringent requirements to
As for the poker part of this
legal poker site,
offers a well-rounded package, largely as a result of its
tournament schedule. This has always been one of the top
sites for tournaments with 5-10 events per hour ranging from
Bounty events, guarantees, and easy-to-earn satellites to
their Sunday $200,000 event. The bonus is also above average
at 150% and can be worked off quickly by larger players.
These days, easy deposit options are almost as important as
the games themselves.
does have one of the best cashier systems with checking
account deposits accepted for all US players.
endless promotions, licensed and regulated in Canada, reload bonuses.
Poker is an interesting case as they've been a legal
poker site in Canada for over a decade now but are still
relatively unknown in the online poker world. Beginning with
the legal side
is licensed and regulated by the venerable Kahnawake Gaming
Commissions, which handles the bulk of gaming sites
worldwide. The Mohawk North American Indians govern the
Kahnawake territory, which is near Montreal, Quebec. Their
gaming commission has deemed True Poker
a legal poker site in their territory and the KGC has
historically been one of the more vigilant e-gaming
authorities in terms of holding licensees to strict
As for the poker room,
has always drawn attention because of their pseudo-3D
software. Even though it's a dated novelty at this point
it's still the only US poker room that allows you to look
through your avatar's eyes at the table.
also offers a more contemporary 2D mode, which will probably
be your preference after a few hands.
also offers our players a 100% bonus, valid up to $200. As
players only have to play 100 raked hands per $10 of bonus
it's one of the easiest to cash out online. Player traffic
is only modest but has grown lately to offer 5 or 6 active
cash games per level.
licensed by the KGC in Canada, unique software, bonus is earned