NEWSFLASH - As of 15th April 2011, Pokerstars and Full Tilt can no longer accept US players.
Since October 2006, when the UIGEA was introduced ,the choice for players looking for a good US Poker Site has become much smaller.
On Friday the 15th April 2011, we all heard the news that the FBI filed an indictment against the founders of online poker's big three – PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker.
It is not expected that any US poker players will be prosecuted. Bad news for US poker players but, there are still excellent online poker sites who WILL accept players from the USA. Traffic may be low now, but hold on to your hats, these sites are expecting a massive influx of new players.
Below we've listed the best Poker Sites that are still accepting US players followed by some mini-reviews of our top US Poker Sites. As you can see there's still plenty on offer for USA poker players! Bear in mind that there are more sites which accept US players, but we will never list any site without checking out their background and integrity first. We're working as fast as we can and will add sites here as we assure ourselves they are safe to play and deposit at.
USA Poker Sites
Here's some mini reviews for our top US Poker Sites. These are the sites where we know you'll find a good game and also find good customer support and secure honest payment systems. You can find a full review for each site plus a full explanation of the sign-up bonus by using the links within the mini-reviews :)
It was a little while ago since the online poker world was in turmoil when the UIGEA was passed, the uproar has since died down but dedicated poker players have continued to fight to have their game recognised as a game of skill and the freedom to play legally online.
The article below is still as relevant today nearly 5 years on..
Is Playing Online Poker In The US Legal?
When the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) was passed on September 30, 2006 it signified a new dawn for the online poker community. Party Poker, Paradise Poker and several other poker sites stopped accepting US players, and the few that chose to continue their operations were left scrambling to find ways to circumvent the new legislation and several US players stopped playing poker online for fear of legal repercussions. Two years later there is still a lot of confusion surrounding exactly what the UIGEA is, how it affects US poker players, and the general legality of playing poker online in the United States.
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act prohibits financial institutions from transferring funds to an online gambling site. The UIGEA does not in any way extend to players, nor does it make online poker an illegal activity.
There was a similar Act passed in 1961 called the Wire Act and it was often referred to in the days leading up to the UIGEA being passed and after. The Wire Act prohibited wagers and bets on sporting events to be made through wire communication (the telephone at the time). The Department of Justice maintains that this act is relevant to online poker but the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals quickly ruled that because the Wire Act only mentioned sports betting and not specifically poker it could not be used to prosecute online poker sites nor its players.
In short there is currently no federal law which prohibits US players from playing poker. With that being said there several states which have state laws in place to make online gambling illegal and this does extend to online poker.
While these state laws extend to players and can result in a fine and 2 years in prison depending on the state, there hasn't been a single report of an online poker player being prosecuted. These state laws mostly target the site operators.
If the UIGEA and the Wire Act do not make online poker illegal why are so many poker sites not accepting US players?
The future of online poker in the United States is still uncertain, and while only payment processing has been targeted by legislators so far there's no certainty that online poker rooms operators won't be the next target. Large publicly traded companies such as PartyGaming the parent company of Party Poker have shareholders to answer to and a public image to maintain, and felt there was too much risk involved by continuing to cater to US players.
Which deposit and withdrawal options are available to US players?
Most financial institutions block deposits funded by US credit cards but still accept prepaid credit cards. You can buy these at your supermarket or western union location. They come in $25/$50/$100 denominations.
The safest option for withdrawals is to request a check by mail.
How does the UIGEA affect my taxable winnings?
Is there anything I can do to help ensure online poker's survival in the US?
The most important thing to take away from this article is that the UIGEA has no effect for poker players, and you can not be prosecuted for playing poker online. As to whether online poker is legal in the United States, there is no federal law in place which specifically makes playing poker online an illegal activity.