Is Online Poker Legal in Maryland?
I am going to be honest with you here. Maryland has arguably the strictest laws when it comes to gambling. I have yet to find a state which even comes close to how much Maryland tries to regulate gaming, and both operators and players will fall afoul of the law if they opt to break it. Let’s take a little look at the gambling laws of the state.
The legislation in Maryland is short and to the point. Gambling is defined as the following:
(a) Prohibited.- A person may not:
(1) bet, wager, or gamble; 
Which basically means, a person cannot put a bet on anything, whether it is a game of chance or skill unless it has been regulated. The main reason for this is because a broad definition such as what you read above allows the authorities in Maryland to come down pretty hard on anybody that attempts to engage in unregulated gambling, and this is something of a ‘catch all’.
Whilst the punishments for playing or operating an unregulated game are not as severe as some states, this is one of the few states where jail time seems to be the norm for mere players of the game! And Maryland authorities seem to be trying to enforce this legislation pretty hard, and there are a number of charges brought each year, both against operators of the games as well as players.
There are a number of regulated options available in Maryland, this includes commercial casinos, and charitable gaming, although the latter is regulated on a county to county basis.
Casinos and Live Poker
When it comes to casinos, there are a number of regulated options out there. These are the only places where you really are going to be able to play Live Poker. As social gaming isn’t an exception under the current legislation, it means that those who engage in home games are playing illegally, and the authorities have even started to come down hard on these people.
In some parts of Maryland (again on a county by county) basis, some forms of social gambling are allowed, however this is really limited to bingo and the like, nothing that comes close to Poker. In short if you want to play this classic card game in Maryland you need to go to a casino otherwise there is no other way in which you are going to be able to play it.
There is no regulated online poker in Maryland, and since the legislation is designed to catch anybody that runs or plays things that having been regulated, I think it is fair to say that Online poker is not allowed in Maryland at all, and the state has even been involved in a number of site closings in recent years which helps emphasize this point.
It is unlikely that Maryland will allow regulated online poker in the future, although, as it is a large state and a site like this could easily be sustained, I won’t say that it is beyond the realms of possibility.