Is Online Poker Legal in Pennsylvania?
Being one of the founding states of the United States of America and the home of the first national bank in the country, it is fair to say that there are little pieces of history scattered around everywhere you go in Pennsylvania. Couple this with the fact that it is an absolutely beautiful state, and it really should be on the top of your list of ‘must visit’ places. Of course, like most states, the gambling laws here aren’t simple, in fact, they are much more difficult than other states out there. Let’s take a look at them.
Firstly, it is worth noting that Pennsylvania is strict on gambling, very strict in fact. However, there is absolutely no law relating to gambling, well, what is written down at least. Which is crazy really. However, that doesn’t mean that gambling is legal here. As America is one of the countries which engages in the Common Law system, we can take our definition from the case law of the state, which is law derived from decisions made in court cases. The general idea from the courts is that there needs to be ‘consideration’ ‘chance’ and ‘reward’.
This basically means that a player needs to place a bet, there needs to be an aspect of chance on whether they are going to win or not, and then there needs to be a reward for one of the parties no matter what the outcome is. Of course, it is unknown how much chance is needed, and to me this seems to be defined on a case by case basis.
So what is the law as it stands? Well, there aren’t really any problems for players in the state and there doesn’t seem to be any legislation which gives them criminal liability, however operators will feel considerable force from the law. There have been a lot of arrests in the state in recent years relating to gambling, all of these for cheating or operating a gambling operation.
There are a number of gambling options available in Pennsylvania. These include a state lottery and race betting. Some of the race tracks actually offer slot machines and various table games. There are also a few commercial casinos. Charitable gambling is allowed providing it is in line with the law.
Casinos and Live Poker
There are plenty of commercial casinos within Pennsylvania, which of course means that there is no shortage of places to play poker in the state. Which is great! It can also be played at regulated charity events. However, the law surrounding social gaming is more ambiguous as it is not addressed in the law. However, it is safe to say that anybody that engages in social gaming is unlikely to be arrested as law enforcement do not seem to be targeting this group of people.
Online poker is not addressed in legislation, however since it isn’t regulated it is technically illegal. However, as I have shown before, players on these websites are unlikely to suffer prosecution so you don’t have anything to worry about.
There are has been no motion to allow regulated online poker, which means it is unlikely it will enter the law any time soon, although it is worth bearing in mind that it is only recently that gambling operations have expanded, so it is possible that it could happen in the future. Residents of Pennsylvania shouldn’t hold their breath though.