You're probably looking at this page because you live in Maryland and have at least a shred of curiousity when it comes to playing online poker in the state. That's what LegalPokerMaryland.com is all about and you are in the right place! Readers are encouraged to use the information on this site as real-world reference material only and not legal advice.
Our staff is made up of experienced poker players, some that have even lived in Maryland, and write based on personal experiences, not what some huge book says. And while the online poker laws in Maryland are important to know, it's also important to know what they mean.
Is Online Gambling Legal In Maryland? Online sports betting is the only form of domestic online gambling that is currently allowed under MD law, though the industry is still a long way off from launch. Other domestic gaming markets are retail only, with no online components. Maryland Poker News Endrit Geci Wins partypoker MILLIONS Online Main Event For $774K. Ambassadors, Players Help Drive 888poker MTT Changes.
For example, if Joe working down in the mail room goes home and plays online poker most nights without getting into trouble, wouldn't it be same to assume that you would be able to also? Let us be the ones to fill you in on why this is possible despite Maryland being one of the least friendly states (because of increased deposit restrictions) when it comes to residents playing online. So..
Is Online Poker Legal For Maryland Residents?
Like many living in the U.S., residents of Maryland are often confused about whether it is even legal to play poker online. All they know is that it was popular for a long time and then went away after Black Friday of the online poker world. But what they don't know is that online poker is back, and it's on another big upswing due to the fact that many states have legalized it, and even the federal government is thinking about passing their own bills to regulate the industry.
You say, 'That doesn't do me any good right now,' and technically, it doesn't. But the fact of the matter is that Maryland residents can play online poker anytime and at pretty much any poker site they wish.
How does that work? Despite Maryland not having any state-regulated online poker rooms, there are still a multitude of poker sites that operate outside of the U.S. and do not report to any U.S. authority.. and that definitely includes any executive department of the Maryland state government.
So, the bottom line here is that Maryland residents should have no trouble or run-ins with the law due to the fact that they played poker on the Net. And until (probably even after) Maryland does regulate online poker within it's borders, many of the same poker sites will still be the best places to play online poker in MD.
Legal Online Poker Sites For Maryland Residents
Ready to jump in on the action? Of course you are, and who would we be to stand in your way? Below are our top selections when it comes to online poker rooms that are open to Maryland residents. We've gone ahead and weeded out the ones that do not allow MD players as well as the ones where users have had trouble depositing. These are the trusted poker sites we've been mentioning, check them out for yourself!
Maryland online poker players have the world of online poker available to them at BetOnline's poker room, and all it takes is a fast and simple download of the software. Well first, players will need to create a login and account with their information but that it quick as well.
Once Maryland players have their account set up and have downloaded the software, to play for real money the thing needed is a deposit. Fortunately, BetOnline has made it easy for Maryland residents to do just that. There are several ways that a BetOnline account can be funded. A credit card (Visa or American Express) is an option, as are electronic transfers like Western Union and a MoneyGram. And finally, the choices of a cashier's check or a money order can be done as well.
The site might be named after betting on sports, but rest assured that SportsBetting.ag provides Maryland poker players a great place to come and play. This is a legal online poker room option for those in Maryland, where they are more than welcome to sign up for an account here. The legal age to play poker in Maryland is 21, despite the fact that the minimum age to register for an account at SportsBetting is 18 years old.
Once inside the poker room equipped with an account and real cash to play with, bettors can select from one of hundreds of tables currently going on. Choose your table limit and check out the average pot that has been won per hand to join the perfect table for you.
Does Bovada Accept Maryland Players?
If you were hoping to use Bovada to play online poker, you're going to be out of luck. Unfortunately, Maryland is one of the three states excluded from registering here. While they are considered the best at many things they do, the other legal Maryland poker sites we've recommended are pretty sturdy and offer all the other features found at Bovada such as sports betting, online casino games (these have live dealer games, Bovada doesn't), and horse betting. Sites like BetOnline & SportsBetting.ag are trusted and can service Maryland residents as well as, or better than what Bovada would if they accepted MD residents.
You can read the gambling laws on the books in Maryland until your ears bleed and you won't find any law relevant to online poker play. The laws that exist target slot machines, illegal lotteries, and other games of chance, leaving online poker out of the discussion entirely. There is no online poker laws in Maryland that prevent players from playing online poker.
That being said, citizens of Maryland are still subject to the UIGEA, a federal law prohibiting American banks from processing payments to or from known gambling sites. State regulation of online poker would be one way around that law, though as of this writing, Maryland citizens can use third party payment processors to transfer their cash legally.
The state of online poker in Maryland is on par with the majority of states in the U.S. There are no legal online poker rooms in the state, and no definitive proposed legislation to bring that forward. There was a bill in early 2013 that related to poker in the home. H.B. 486 is a bill that would allow residents in Maryland to host a poker game at their house, and play for real money.
Maryland could be a state that could benefit greatly from the implementation of legal online poker. The fact that nearby state Delaware already has forms of legal gambling on the Internet means that the mid-Atlantic region of the country is obviously not opposed to the idea on the whole. This is also true with New Jersey, which is in the Northeast region of the United States as well.
Back in the summer of 2012, there was a rumor coming out of Maryland that there was an Internet gambling bill in the works modeled after something like Delaware has in their state. However, that appears to continue to be a work in progress, with no official word from Governor Martin O'Malley's office on that. Maryland could certainly benefit by keeping those who want to gamble online from doing so in those nearby states. Rather than lose them to that, legislation that would legalize the practice would keep the revenue generated from online poker and more from leaving the state.
Is Land Based Poker Legal in Maryland?
For poker fans in Maryland, there is good news coming down from the capital city of Annapolis. Of all the states in the union, Maryland residents may rest assured that their home state boasts some of the most lax laws as it related to playing poker, even if one wishes to play for considerable profits.
In Maryland, poker is treated much like alcohol or tobacco. As long as a resident is of age, just as it is legal for them to use any of these “controlled” products, it is legal for them to participate in poker. As far as legal complications concerning the participation in poker, it’s truly that simple: it is legal for a resident of Maryland to play.
The only legal complication that can arise in the state of Maryland as it related to playing poker by the hand or in tournaments comes in its facilitation. Continuing with the alcohol and tobacco metaphor, even though it is legal for any of age citizen to use these products, in order to make money off of selling them, there must be certain permits and sanctions applied for and received by the state of Maryland.
Violating these statues as they relate to poker can result harsh penalties. Whether a resident is operating an unlicensed poker room from their own business or even their own home, they may be brought up on felony charges if found guilty in court.
This, however, brings up an important distinction. State law in Maryland has nothing to say about a simple, private game amongst friends, no matter what stakes they are playing for. The only way one can be found guilty of promoting a poker game in Maryland is if they collect a profit, or “rake” from simply hosting the game. This is the dividing line between a legal act and a felony, so all Maryland residents are strongly advised to take this distinction into careful consideration if they are to host a poker game in their home.
Where to Play Poker in Maryland
Luckily for prospective poker players in the state of Maryland, there are no shortage of legal casinos to play poker in. In any of the casinos around the city of Baltimore or spread throughout the state, not only can big money be won by stepping up to the felt and laying some money down, but great fun can be had participating in these exciting live tournaments.
With a great variance of buy-ins for no limit hold ‘em tournaments varying from $25 for recreational players all the way up to buy-ins of over $300 for well-seasoned veterans, Maryland is capable of catering to just about every style and skill range of poker player imaginable.
Unfortunately, they do find themselves unable to cater to a demographic wishing to play a form of poker other than hold ‘em. Even though it’s the most popular version of the game in the United States by far, if a player wished to try a couple hands of a different variant, they will have a hard time doing so in the state of Maryland.
Still, despite the lack of variety in game action, the state of Maryland offers several excellent options for playing poker for fun and for profit.
Note: None of the staff here at LegalPokerMaryland are trained lawyers and do not offer any the above information as legal advice. If you have specific questions or doubts about the legality of playing legal online poker in Maryland or any other state, consult a legal professional that is certified by the bar where you live.
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Maryland has a varied history when it comes to gambling, going back 100’s of years. From the lottery boom of the 1700s to the slot machine fever of the 1940’s – this State have been at the center of it all. After many years when almost all forms of gambling were banned, casinos were approved in a 2010 referendum, with the first ones opening in 2012. The first poker rooms were live in 2013, and are already doing great business.
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This page gives you detailed information on the forms of poker you can play in the State of Maryland. First up, I have outlined the opportunities to play live poker games and casino card rooms. After that you will find information on how you can legally run a home-game in this State. Next you will find information on online poker games, which are currently considered illegal. After that a look at the Statute books can be found – before I summarize and look at the possible next steps for Maryland.
Live Poker Games In Maryland
It took a long time for Maryland to get their first casino poker room. A State-wide referendum approved licensed State casinos in 2010, with the huge ‘Maryland Live’ opening its doors 2 years later. This was partly in response to the large amount of gambling revenues crossing State borders to casino-friendly neighbors including Delaware and New Jersey.
The poker room at Maryland Live has been a huge hit, offering a wide range of cash games and tournaments – recently crowned with a $1 million tournament series in the Spring of 2014. This casino is also proving attractive to residents of the District Of Columbia (Washington DC). The amount of people visiting from Washington DC has initiated discussions on whether licensed casinos should be introduced into the Capitol.
There are several more casinos in various stages of development in Maryland. If the experience of Maryland Live is anything to go by, there are more poker rooms sure to be opened soon.
Are Home Games Legal In Maryland?
Strictly speaking, you are breaking the law by hosting a home game in Maryland. In practical terms the law enforcement community tolerates purely social games where nobody is profiting via raking the games or charging entry fees. This enables small stakes home games to take place without worries of busts – and also allows bar league events where there are no buy-ins.
In the Spring of 2014, the subject of Home Poker games was discussed in 2 hearings in the MD Senate. The idea is to create a carve-out under the law for social games to decriminalize them. No action was taken following these hearings. Hopefully the next time gambling laws are amended in this State, a clause legalizing home-games will be included.
Online Poker Games In Maryland
Like most States there are no specific mentions of online poker games in the Maryland Statute books. Enforcement agencies consider the wide definition of ‘wagering’ (see below) to be adequate coverage for internet gambling of all types. Maryland residents do play poker at the offshore sites who still welcome US players. At the time of writing no individual has ever been prosecuted for doing this or even arrested.
While there is no bill or discussion in the MD government concerning regulation of online poker games, you can be sure that neighboring States of NJ and DW are being watched closely. If their regulation efforts prove to be a success then there is no reason for Maryland not to follow – and even join a future liquidity sharing deal with them.
What Do The Maryland Gambling Statutes Say?
Penalties for gambling illegally in Maryland are harsh, especially when you consider the liberal attitude towards regulated gambling. There are two key parts of the gambling laws which cover poker games. These are a very general definition stating that an individual may not ‘bet, wager or gamble’, and then a more detailed section on using buildings for the purposes of gambling activity.
Here is an excerpt from section 12-201 of the Maryland code:
Md Live Poker
… establish, keep, rent, use, or occupy, or knowingly allow to be established, kept, rented, used, or occupied, all or a part of a building, vessel, or place, on land or water, within the State, for the purpose of: (i) betting, wagering, or gambling; or (ii) making, selling, or buying books or pools on the result of a race, contest, or contingency…
That’s already a very broad definition, and the assumption in MD is that poker is very much included in this. In case that were not enough to capture all types of gambling, you can’t legally receive or hold money involved in wagering either – including contests of skill.
Maryland Poker – Summing It Up
After years when you could only visit racetracks, play lottery games or attend charity bingo nights – Maryland has really come alive when it comes to poker games. The best thing about the new Maryland Live Casino (other than their inaugural $1 million tournament!) is that this is just the first of several more casinos due to open poker rooms in the near future.
I would consider MD one of the stronger candidates for regulating online poker – though with the pre-requisite that Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware demonstrate that this is a success first.