Most poker players know Las Vegas as the holy land of poker. The host of the most prestigious poker event in the world, the World Series of Poker, has made Las Vegas the number one destination for those wanting to hit the tables in search of fame and fortune. Over the years, many other major tournament events have been hosted in Las Vegas, but what about playing online? Well, Nevada was one of the first states to legalize online poker after the closure of most of the U.S.-facing sites on Black Friday. This page gives you an overview of what options exist for those looking to play online poker in the desert.
History of legal Online Poker in Nevada
With such a long history in the poker world, you would think that Nevada casinos would be lining up to enter the digital age of the game. However, one of the loudest voices from the Las Vegas Strip, Sheldon Adelson, has been spending a ton of money in Washington lobbying against online gambling in general, and until recently his voice (and his wallet) was being heard.
This all finally changed in the wake of the DoJ closing many of the online poker sites operating in the early 2010s, effectively shutting down the industry. The state of Nevada took it upon itself to give its residents a legitimate option, and in early 2013 it passed a bill into law that would make online poker legal and regulated within the state.
However, there still wasn’t a rush to acquire licenses and launch sites. In fact, only one site came out of the gate quickly, called Ultimate Poker. It launched in April 2013, but despite being the first option in the market, it couldn’t gain enough traction to stay alive and went out of business in November 2014.
When it comes to the regulations set out in Nevada, they were pretty straight forward. The minimum age for playing at an online poker site is 21, just as it is to play at a land-based poker table. The most important part of the legislation that passed was a “bad actor” clause, which prohibits offshore-based companies that were accepting Nevada players in the past from applying for a license for 10 years. This means many of the sites and brands that are most recognizable to poker players cannot attempt licensing until at least 2023.
Online Poker sites in Nevada
With the limited number of potential licensees as a result of the strict legislation, it isn’t entirely surprising to see a small number of online poker sites currently live in the Nevada market. Another factor that has kept the numbers low is the population of the state itself. With only 3 million residents, it would be hard for multiple sites to find the liquidity to keep their tables open 24 hours a day. Here’s an overview of the options you have in Nevada.
The World Series of Poker is one of the best-known names in all the poker world. With thousands of players flocking to Las Vegas in June for the biggest poker festival in the world and smaller branded tours all over the United States and around the world, the WSOP brand is synonymous with the best play on the planet.
The company extended its brand into online poker with WSOP.com in September 2013 and hasn’t looked back. With an interstate agreement in place that allows Nevada players the chance to play at the same tables with its sister site in New Jersey, WSOP.com has been able to create prize pools that are worthy of attention. Also, with the ability for those who are visiting Nevada to create accounts and play online while in the state, the World Series of Poker has been able to extend their summer poker festival online. This year, 3 official WSOP bracelets were awarded in online-only events.
Players looking for the most diverse online poker action should be choosing WSOP.com for their deposits and play.
Another poker site, this one connected to the South Point Hotel and Casino, opened its doors under the name Real Gaming. However, this site has struggled to stay in business, and today barely has enough action to keep cash games open throughout the day. For the most part, this is really only an option for those of you patient enough to hold out for tables to open.
Online Poker Tournaments in Nevada
Poker tournament fans in Nevada can take advantage of several types of online tournaments being run in the state. The most exciting of these is likely the WSOP Bracelet events that are held during June each year. This is a chance to win a coveted poker championship without having to sit for hours in the Rio.
Other online poker tournaments are scattered throughout the week on these sites. There are tournaments that cost nothing to enter which give you a chance to win smaller prizes for free, and some that cost hundreds of dollars to enter that also give you a chance to qualify for smaller amounts via a satellite event. You can also play satellite tournaments on WSOP.com that award seats to the Main Event in Las Vegas, so you can get your seat at the biggest tournament on the planet from your mobile device.
The majority of online poker tournaments available in Nevada are No-Limit Hold’em tournaments, but there are some that take other games like Omaha and Stud into consideration. Regardless, there is something for everyone if you look at the tournament schedules of online poker sites.
Online Poker Cash Games in Nevada
Cash game players in Nevada who want to step away from the tables and play from the comfort of their hotel room can find a wide array of available games online. The most popular games are the $1/2 and $2/$5 No-Limit Hold’em tables, which see a lot of activity all day and night. Some games run as low as pennies per hand for those who are trying to learn the game while still putting a little bit of real money on the line.
Payment Options in Nevada
One of the great side-effects of regulation in online poker is that it re-opened a large number of potential deposit and withdrawal methods for players. In Nevada, these are the options you will find for making a deposit at an online poker site.
- Credit and Debit Cards – you can use your current credit cards to make deposits, although not all banks accept gambling transactions, so you will have to try yours to see if it is successful.
- PayPal – the eBay-owned payment method once took most of the online gambling payments in the United States, and is now back on the scene for online poker players in Nevada.
- Neteller – an e-wallet solution that creates a digital card number for use at online poker sites.
- In-person – at select Caesars properties, you can make a deposit at the cage for your WSOP.com account, and same with South Point and your Real Gaming account.
Nevada Online Poker FAQ
Why aren’t there more legal online poker sites in Nevada?
The answer to this is pretty simple: Math. In order for an online poker site to be viable, there have to be enough players to generate the tournament prize pools and the cash games needed to make the site active all day and night. This type of liquidity is hard to come by especially in a landscape where sites are bound by the borders of their state. That is why even though there are so many land-based casinos in Nevada, there are only a handful of choices when it comes to online poker sites.
Can I play against friends on the East Coast from Nevada?
This depends on which site you choose to play with. A few years ago, an agreement was reached between the states that at that time had legalized online poker – Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey – that would allow players from each state to be placed into one pool to generate more liquidity. To date, there is only one site – WSOP.com – that allows for this shared liquidity. If you are playing at this site and have friends who like to play online poker from the other two, then you can find yourselves at the same tables.
Why do I still see ads for offshore poker sites sometimes?
When the Department of Justice seized the domains of the major online poker sites that were accepting U.S. players in 2011, it was doing so based on some evidence it had received that these sites were breaking the law. The sites that remain active in the U.S. were not shut down either due to their size or the fact that the government didn’t have the evidence to make cases stick against them. Despite being spared from the law in 2011, we still don’t recommend that you play with a site that isn’t licensed and regulated by your state.
When will online poker be legal across the country?
There is no federal mandate to make online gambling legal across America, as the states have the control of regulations in their individual locations. While it seemed like it would be years before online poker would once again be legal for anyone living in the United States, the rapid movement of sports betting legislation in the last 18 months is giving hope to poker fans that their game could be added into these bills as they make their way across the U.S.
Why can’t I access my account when I am traveling outside Nevada?
As part of individual state legislation on gaming, online poker sites in Nevada must be geo-fenced to accessibility only within state lines. This means that anyone trying to access their account from outside Nevada (unless you are in Delaware or New Jersey and playing at WSOP.com or 888.com) won’t be able to log on and play.
Why can’t I play against players in legal jurisdictions around the world?
This is an excellent question and one that has been raised by the online poker sites that are licensed in Nevada that have international player pools. The short answer is that the regulations were not written that way, but lobbying has begun to try to amend the rules. Hopefully, one day the players in Nevada will be able to access some of the larger prize pools and tournaments around the world.