Legal Online Poker in Maryland
Compared to other states, Maryland’s gambling laws are not too strict — in fact, Little America permits many forms of gambling, including casino gaming, horse racing, lottery, charitable gaming, and sports betting.
Fortunately for poker players, Maryland residents can legally enjoy this game at six brick-and-mortar casinos. However, the same cannot be said for online poker since the state has yet to regulate it. Still, that doesn’t mean poker players are left high and dry.
This article will explore the legality of online and land-based poker in Maryland and the state’s current stance on gambling as a whole.
Is Online Poker Legal in Maryland?
Maryland has a long gambling history, especially given its horse racing heritage. Colonial gentlemen used to show off their wealth through horse racing long before the US was formed. The first horse racing club, the Maryland Jockey Club, was founded in Annapolis in 1743. It was the first sports association in the US.
In 1791, the Free State started allowing the lottery, but the proceeds had to be used for public works. Although churches ran lotteries at that time, that didn’t stop people from cheating and being involved in various fraud schemes. Therefore, the state stopped issuing lottery licenses in 1834 and banned them completely in 1860.
Maryland decided to legalize pari-mutuel wagering, and in 1920, the Maryland Racing Commission began overseeing those activities. Even today, there are two tracks in operation — Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Downs.
The 1940s saw the legalization of slot machines, but only in a few southern Maryland counties. This was the only place outside of Nevada where people could play slot games. Nevertheless, even though they were practically everywhere (at gas stations and in corner stores), the state banned them in 1968.
There were many attempts to legalize the lottery again. Finally, it was reintroduced in 1972. After that, not much happened on the gambling scene for a few decades. Almost 50 years later, in 2008, voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing land-based casinos to be constructed. The first one saw the light of day in 2010, and five more opened over the next six years. All of them offer multiple poker games, and most feature poker rooms.
On top of that, the state also permits charitable gaming, allowing charities to offer bingo, raffles, wheel of fortune, and paddlewheels. Charities must register with local authorities to be able to host games. Bingo rules are pretty liberal, but raffles can be organized only twice per year.
Maryland lawmakers also legalized home poker games by passing HB 127 in 2016. This law applies to other table games as well. If you are 21 or above, you can host a home poker session with friends, provided you abide by specific stipulations.
Maryland has no specific regulations regarding online gambling and poker rooms, so these activities are a gray area in terms of legality. As a result, many poker enthusiasts turn to offshore casinos.
To understand Maryland’s legal framework better, we advise you to go through the following laws before you start playing real money poker.
- Maryland Statute, Section 12–102 — Betting, Wagering, Gambling
- House Bill 127 — Home Games
- Senate Bill 842 — Gaming
Best Legal Poker Rooms in MarylandThe following sections will discuss where you can play online and land-based poker in Maryland.
Legal Online Poker in Maryland
Online poker is not regulated in Little America. The only online gambling activities that are explicitly permitted are horse racing and sports betting. In 2012, House Speaker Michael Busch suggested an online poker bill, but the legislature didn’t consider it.
In fact, Maryland is not considered to be the most friendly state toward online operators due to numerous gambling controversies related to the acceptance of internet bets. Namely, in 2011, police departments in Maryland were given funds to participate in Operation Texas Hold’em by the Maryland office of the Department of Justice. At that time, the Department of Justice created a fake payment processor, Linwood Payment Solutions, which allegedly assisted offshore online gambling sites and e-wallets with payments. In fact, its primary purpose was to go after online gambling operators that violated US laws.
Because of this, some poker and sports betting sites were taken down. The incident happened six weeks after Black Friday in 2011. It was known as Blue Monday, and it made all the remaining companies give up their domain names and buy new ones in other countries. Additionally, Calvin Ayre, the founder of Bodog, was indicted in February 2012, and the domain name was also seized. Considering everything, we can’t blame operators and firms for avoiding Maryland.
Since real money online poker is banned from the state, players usually visit social or sweepstakes casinos that host games for fun and entertainment. International casinos that do not operate under Maryland regulations and are located outside the state are another option. They are currently in an ambiguous position since the state doesn’t prohibit them but also doesn’t encourage them.
However, many hold licenses, accept players from the Free State, and have an extensive poker game portfolio. If you are struggling to choose the right one, always check its license, security measures, and reputation. Otherwise, you will have no legal recourse if you encounter any issues.
My list of the best US poker sites which I consider to be the best rooms to play in 2023:
- BetOnline Poker
- Ignition Poker
- Everygame Poker
- Juicy Stakes Poker
- ACR Poker
- Bovada Poker
- BlackChip Poker
- SportsBetting Poker
100% Legal & Licensed Verified Bonus Mobile Friendly Advertiser Disclosure. Must be +18 to participate.
Land-Based Poker in Maryland
Maryland voters approved brick-and-mortar casinos in 2008, but it wasn’t until 2010 that the first establishment, Hollywood Casino Perryville, was built. The following year Ocean Downs was established. Live! Casino Hotel came along in 2012, Rocky Gap Casino Hotel in 2013, Horseshoe Casino Baltimore in 2014, and MGM National Harbor in 2016.
All of them offer games typically found in Nevada or New Jersey. However, it wasn’t like that initially; when the first casino opened, it could only offer slot games. Poker rooms and other table games were added in 2013.
Currently, these gambling halls attract a large number of poker fans and offer a wide array of titles. Plus, they organize frequent tournaments.
How to Register at a Legal Online Poker Site in Maryland
Poker players from Maryland who want to explore international casinos’ offers can register with some of the providers we have recommended on this page. The sign up process is simple:
Choose an online poker siteby scrolling up to the top of this page.
Head to its official website or alternatively, you can click on the provided link, which will take you directly to the operator’s site. Clicking the Join/Register/Sign Up button.
Input all the required information and submit your request.
Verify your account if this step is required. Then, you can log in.
Deposit & PlayOpen the Cashier section and choose the banking method you typically use. Make a deposit. The transaction will be processed instantly.
Load the game lobby and choose any game you like. Good luck!
Land-Based Casinos With Live Poker
The Free State has six land-based casinos located in six counties. They are commercial and under the Maryland Lottery’s supervision, meaning there are no Native American gambling venues in the state.
Almost all of them have dedicated poker rooms with 5 to 55 tables. You can always find some poker action there, as they offer daily and weekly tournaments. Horseshoe Casino Baltimore features the premier WSOP room hosting WSOP satellite events and many other competitions. Additionally, the World Poker Tour has made numerous WPTDeepStacks stops at Live! Casino and Hotel over the years. This renowned casino is also the host of the Maryland State Poker Championship.
Poker enthusiasts from Maryland can enjoy an array of titles, including Three-Card Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Mississippi Stud, High Card Flush, Heads-Up Hold’em, Pot Limit Omaha, Five-Card Omaha and a few others.
But poker is not the only game you can play there. You will have numerous slot, video poker, roulette, baccarat, blackjack, and craps games at your disposal. It’s worth noting that the tax rate on slot games is the highest in the state (67%), while it is 20% on live poker and other table games.
Aside from large gaming floors, these casinos offer accommodation, restaurants for fine and casual dining with local and international cuisines, friendly staff, and numerous other indoor and outdoor amenities. Some are even open 24/7.
If you like playing live poker, visit the following brick-and-mortar venues:
- Hollywood Casino Perryville — 1201 Chesapeake Overlook Pkwy, Perryville, Maryland 21903
- Ocean Downs — 10218 Racetrack Road, Berlin, Maryland 21811
- Live! Casino & Hotel — 7002 Arundel Mills, Circle #7777, Hanover, Maryland 21076
- Rocky Gap Casino Resort — 16701 Lakeview Rd NE, Flintstone, Maryland 21530
- Horseshoe Casino Baltimore — 1525 Russell St, Baltimore, Maryland 21230
- MGM National Harbor — 101 MGM National Ave, Oxon Hill, Maryland 20745
Interstate online poker is currently out of reach for Maryland citizens. However, the situation might change in the future, considering the fact that Maryland is surrounded by four states that have legalized online poker. The MD lawmakers will probably consider legalizing online poker one day after seeing the revenue generated by other states’ expanded online gaming options.
Another thing that gives us hope that online poker can become a reality is the liberalization of the state’s general anti-gambling laws in 2019 and the legalization of sports betting in 2021.