Online Poker Illegal In Maryland
March 21, 2011 4:47 PM   Subscribe

Is Online Poker Illegal In Maryland?

I live in Maryland, and for the last few months I have been enjoying playing play-money online poker. I am interested in making the jump to $0.01/$0.02 poker. However, despite by best efforts I cannot seem to get a straight answer on whether or not playing online poker is legal.

I am not worried about getting caught, I am worried because my career might require a security clearance, a delicate process that I don't want to make more complicated with a "history of illegal gambling".

Could anyone help me out: Is Online Poker Illegal In Maryland?
posted by Spurious to Law & Government (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
you might also want to check out

they have helpful forums and even have one dedicated poker legislation
posted by p1nkdaisy at 5:37 PM on March 21, 2011

The UIGEA (the legislation whose intent is to prevent people from depositing at online gambling sites) does not make PLAYING online poker illegal.

Your issue makes it more challenging because of a possible security clearance.. Something you may want to consider is playing at a site like It's $20 a month, but you can play as many tournaments as you like for that $20 and win money and it's legal.
posted by Kevmath at 6:33 PM on March 21, 2011

From what I understand (and I'm no lawyer), the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 made it illegal to gamble online in the United States with real money, period. You can slog through Title 31 USC 53 Subchapter IV here. It's the money that's the issue (and that's why it requires jumping through specific hoops to set up an account to get your money out from Poker Stars and other sites). Current enforcement seems to hedge on the fact that the DoJ believes this should be a federal, not state, matter.

Some states are trying to legalize gambling at the state level, but aren't making much headway. Maryland, on the other hand, is distinguished for having federal attorneys attempt to seize assets from various gamblers in that state just last year. See this affidavit, which also cites some potentially relevant Maryland statutes.

I am not a lawyer but I would not risk clearance on this (I have family who play poker online, thus my interest in the topic). Online poker with real money does seem pretty unambiguously illegal in Maryland.
posted by librarylis at 6:46 PM on March 21, 2011

Should have looked before suggesting ClubWPT, Maryland is one of the states where they do not accept players.
posted by Kevmath at 7:00 PM on March 21, 2011

Hah, I didn't know you were on here, Kevmath.

The pointer to 2+2 is a good one, but specifically there are forums dedicated to poker legislation that will be very helpful:
2+2 poker legislation forum

I am not a legal expert but pretty much everyone I know who is insists that online poker isn't illegal. The UIGEA provides provisions making it illegal to transfer money to or from "illegal gambling sites" but doesn't really specify what qualifies as illegal, aside from ones that were already covered by things like the Wire act. Poker is explicitly illegal in a few states - washington state is one of them, california may become one if they succeed in making online poker legal state-wide, but only on a state-wide site (much like what France has now)

The security clearance makes things complicated. They may frown upon it even if, by the letter of the law, you couldn't get prosecuted for it. I don't suppose you can... ask them? I mean, if you haven't actually played for real money yet that is.
posted by RustyBrooks at 8:09 PM on March 21, 2011

Best answer: It is possibly illegal, but there is virtually no case law because no one ever gets prosecuted. If it is illegal, it is probably like jaywalking from a legal perspective. Chuck Humprey has a pretty exhaustive summary of the issues on a state by state basis on his website.

In terms of the security clearance, it is a subject that they will be interested in, but it is certainly not an absolute bar to obtaining one. I hold a clearance that required an exhaustive process, including a polygraph and I've gambled more on poker than all but a relative handful of people in the world. They asked a number of detailed questions about it and I was completely candid. It is my sense that they were looking for risks that I might get deep in debt and be subject to blackmail. I have demonstrated a long period of playing responsibly within my bankroll. I keep poker money separate from real money and only withdraw money from poker that I don't need to play on. I file and pay my taxes with my poker income meticulously declared. I have records from the day I first started playing.

I know many other cleared individuals who play online casually for fun. My case is probably more complicated because I've done some of the travel the circuit thing and play for stakes that seem frightening to people who haven't become inured to it.
posted by Lame_username at 10:05 AM on March 22, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks all, especially Lame_username.

At the stakes I am considering playing at ($0.01/$0.02), it doesn't seem like it will be a problem.
posted by Spurious at 11:55 PM on March 22, 2011

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