THE GAME OF ONLINE POKER HAS CHANGED IN THE UNITED STATES. For the first time ever poker players in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware can play against each other and find a wider variety of game selection, both in cash games and tournaments. Currently, there are no California online gambling laws or any US federal online gambling laws which make it a crime for California residents to play poker online at legitimately licensed and regulated offshore online poker destinations. Licensed offshore poker rooms are the primary legal option for CA players looking to enjoy legal online poker gambling for real money and until California reaches a legislative consensus regarding state-regulated online poker.

Back in New Jersey & More States to Come in 2020?

There simply too much money at stake for the issue to go away, and virtually everyone seems behind the idea to some extent; the sticking point remains getting everyone on the same page, behind the same legislation. PokerStars is certainly stepping up their efforts to get Internet poker allowed in California. Real money online poker is legal in many countries around the world. In the United States it’s legal in certain states like New Jersey, but players should be careful about where they play and know the local laws before playing.

Currently PokerStars is only available in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Delaware.

Updated Jan. 02, 2019 – PokerStars has not only launched in Pennsylvania but it’s currently the highest traffic regulated online poker site in all of America. It took years of delays and half-starts but PokerStars USA is officially open for business in PA and it appears that it was worth the wait for poker players in the area. It remains to be seen whether the success in PA will lead more US states to consider legalizing and regulating online poker.

Earlier this year, West Virginia also passed legislation that officially legalized online poker, but it’s expected to take until 2021 at the earliest for West Virginia online poker sites to launch.

PokerStars gained approval to operate in New Jersey in the fall of 2015, and New Jersey only. Their site, pokerstarsnj.com, went live on March 21, 2016, but only those physically located in the state of New Jersey can play. It’s play money for all other states. PokerStarsNJ is offering real money online poker as well as casino games such as slots, blackjack, and roulette to name a few. Below are online poker rooms available for other States.

$2000 Bonus-Rating: 4.9/5
$1000 Bonus-Rating: 4.7/5
$1000 Bonus-Rating: 4.5/5
$2000 Bonus-Rating: 4.2/5
$1000 BonusRating: 4.1/5 -
$500 Bonus-Rating: 4.0/5

We recommend Ignition Poker as the best alternative, and it’s preferred by many to state-run sites for those not located within New Jersey borders. Some of the other sites that rank highly are Bovada, BetOnline, SportsBetting, ACR, Black Chip Poker and Intertops. As state by state rollouts occur, we will continue to keep you updated on when PokerStars will make it to your state.

Can You Play PokerStars in the USA?

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Real money online poker play on PokerStars is currently only available if you are visiting or living within New Jersey. PokerStars will be in more USA states in the near future, and Pennsylvania could be the second state to welcome PokerStars in the USA.

PokerStars, also owner of Full Tilt Poker, sold their gambling business to Amaya Gaming for $4.9 billion in a legal strategy to enter the U.S. under the pretense that they are a ‘new company’. Players are still choosing to play at safe offshore poker sites such as Ignition Poker and BetOnline, due to 50-state acceptance. PokerStars is partnered with Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, and their main competition in the state is WSOP/888 and Borgata/PartyPoker.

Meanwhile legal online poker is available in Delaware and Nevada, but PokerStars has yet to acquire a license in either state. Online poker legislation in big markets like New York and California has been considered, but never passed. It appears PokerStars is years away from offering games in those states.

If you do not live in either Nevada or Delaware, we highly recommend Ignition Poker or Betonline.ag which are safe and trusted sites that service all 50 USA states. On the real money poker sites reviews page, we provide a comprehensive look at how each online poker site has been ranked and what factors have been considered most important when reviewing online poker rooms.

Make no mistake, online poker is definitely legal in the USA. It’s 100% legal for you to play, so you don’t have to worry about getting arrested.

How Many Players on Pokerstars?

PokerStars remains the largest poker site on the internet with tens of thousands of players logging in on a weekly basis. PokerStars traffic is far superior to any other poker website and it controls over 50% of the market.

The sale of PokerStars has now changed the game in the US market. It is a prerequisite for any online casino that operates with a US license to also have or be partners with a U.S. operated “land-based” casino. PokerStars partnered with Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, NJ. Unfortunately, PokerStars has struggled with its NJ-based traffic.

PokerStars also made a massive deal with gigantic casino conglomerate Eldorado Resorts, which operates properties across 12 different states. The US government has to be pleased that PokerStars is playing ball and infusing the US market with plenty of cash.

When Will PokerStars Return to the USA?

PokerStars USA is operating an online poker and casino site in New Jersey as of March 21, 2016. Preliminary negotiations to purchase the Atlantic Club in NJ failed, but a partnership with Resorts Casino Hotel was completed. It also has plans to launch a site in Pennsylvania in the near future.

The brand wasn’t forced into a file labelled, “bad actor” clause, mentioned in recent law which made it harder for poker sites that operated in the US during illegal times to re-enter, despite having paid over an estimated $850 million in fines publicly. Not to mention what has transpired behind closed doors.

Good Faith Will Not Prevail?

While some US states have been reluctant to allow PokerStars back, it should be noted that the company bailed out tens of thousands of American poker players by purchasing the embattled Full Tilt Poker after the events of Black Friday. Full Tilt famously didn’t have funds on hand to repay its players.

PokerStars was simply a better-run business and separated their player accounts from operating expenses. It was therefore an easy task for PokerStars to immediately pay back its players after they were forced out of the US market in 2011. PokerStars was also better at becoming a global poker business with much of its player traffic coming from outside the USA.

This act of good faith in which hundreds of millions were dealt back in the form of penalties and bailouts satisfied US officials. It was an example of responsible gaming. As more and more casinos based in the USA secure their licenses to operate, PokerStars will likely be entering several of these state-regulated markets.

When Will I Be Able to Play PokerStars in my State?

We have in-depth real money online poker guides for many of the US states that are updated whenever there are changes to state legislation. Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut guide to when online poker will be legalized in each US state. For now, it appears that progress will only occur at the state level and a federal online poker bill is still just a pipe dream.

There are some states that have a higher chance of legalizing and regulated online poker in the near future, however. We keep close track on some of the more progressive states and try to give our readers some insight into which states could be closing in on legalization. You can take a deeper dive into your states specific laws in regards to PokerStars and all online poker laws with our state-by-state guides.

Online Poker USA Law State-by-State Guides

You can refer to the legal status of online poker in every US state here:
Alabama – Arizona – Arkansas – California – Colorado – Connecticut – Georgia – Idaho – Iowa – Kansas – Maine – Maryland – Massachusetts – Michigan – Minnesota – Mississippi – Montana – Nebraska – New Hampshire – New Mexico – North Carolina – North Dakota – Ohio – Oklahoma – Pennsylvania – Rhode Island – South Carolina – Tennessee – Vermont – West Virginia – Wyoming

The Entire History of PokerStars in the USA

PokerStars has a fascinating history in the online poker industry with a substantial portion of it taking place in the USA.


  • Now a billion-dollar, publicly-traded company, PokerStars had rather humble beginnings.
  • It began in the early 2000s as a Costa Rican company called Rational Enterprises that was majority owned by Israeli-Canadian Isai Scheinberg.
  • PokerStars was just one of many of the early real-money online poker operators including PartyPoker, Pacific Poker (Now 888poker) and Tropical Poker.

2003 – 2006

  • PokerStars claim to fame came in 2003 when an accountant named Chris Moneymaker won the WSOP Main Event 2003-2006 Las Vegas after qualifying on the site.
  • Moneymaker was the first player to win the Main Event after qualifying online and helped create the so-called “poker boom” of the early 2000s.
  • PokerStars quickly became a favorite amongst poker players for its secure deposits, reliable support team and booming cash games.

2006 – 2011

  • The poker boom was stifled early on when the US government passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 that led to publicly-traded companies like PartyPoker getting forced to leave the US market altogether.
  • UIGEA had the opposite effect on PokerStars, because PokerStars was a privately-held company, it remained in the US market and quickly took the reins as the most popular online poker site in the world.

2011 – 2016

  • The gravy train came to an end in 2011 when the Department of Justice seized the .com addresses of three online poker sites: PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute/UltimateBet.
  • Online poker players referred to the day as “Black Friday”. It would be years before PokerStars would be allowed to re-enter the US market.

2016 – Today

  • PokerStars continued to flourish on the international market and was purchased by Amaya Gaming in a massive $4.9 billion deal in 2014. Subsequently the first officially licensed online poker sites in the USA start to pop up in 2014.
  • New Jersey became the first state to allow PokerStars back in 2016.
  • Pennsylvania is set to follow suit in 2019 but for now PokerStars NJ is the only game in town.

Unfortunately, many other states remain a pipe dream and it will likely be decades before PokerStars is allowed to operate in the entirety of the USA.

A real-money online poker site for Californians “will be flipping the switch on for real money sometime between the 26th and 28th,” according to Santa Ysabel Gaming Commission Chairman Dave Vialpando.

Vialpando told Card PlayerKing arthur free online. that the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel’s free-play online poker product will have real-money offerings for those who are residents of California and 18 years of age or older. You must also be physically within the borders of the Golden State to play.


The tribe’s intentions were announced last month, though it wasn’t exactly clear about a launch date.

Card Player had the chance to ask Vialpando about the tribe’s bold move into the online space despite California not having legalized online poker.

Brian Pempus: Can you talk about the process of deciding to go through with this despite no online poker bill in California passing yet?

Dave Vialpando: Yeah, there is none that will be passing. I actually read a statement from [Assemblyman] Jones-Sawyer that they will be re-introducing a bill for California in December. It doesn’t really affect our plans. Our authority to offer class II gaming from our reservation is not prohibited by any statute. In fact, we believe it is covered by IGRA. We have been fully cooperative with all the government agencies that have asked us questions, in fact with anyone who has asked us questions. Most of our regulations are public documents, so it’s pretty much full disclosure for us. We did form an alliance with the California Council on Problem Gambling and we have just put the finishing touches on what we think is a model responsible gambling program for internet gaming providers. We will be rolling that out shortly. We are moving full speed ahead.

BP: Why didn’t other tribes in California try this before? Why do you think you are the first?

DV: Well, I wouldn’t even try to speak for other tribes, but what I have heard is that some tribes are reluctant to do online gaming not because they fear the government but because they worry about the adverse effect it could have on their brick-and-mortar enterprises. So folks, some of the smaller tribes, are perfectly satisfied with the revenues being generated from their land-based casinos, and they have no intention to enter online gaming. They don’t see it as a viable business opportunity for their particular tribe. Of course there are the tribes that would just defer to the state to come up with the regulatory framework and structure. It has taken us more than two years of planning. As the Chairman of the Santa Ysabel Gaming Commission my concern is to cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s on the regulatory side. It has been very labor intensive. Some tribes will want the state to create that framework and then they will fill in the blanks for their particular property. There are several reasons tribes have decided not to enter online gaming at this time.

BP: What exactly will be available for players at the real-money launch?

DV: It is an operation question. We have limited offerings right now because we want to make sure everything checks out reliability wise from beta testing. It will be a slow roll-out. We will be adding new features and tournaments, and promotions as we move down the road and gain experience. The product we have right now is absolutely solid. We are very confident with it. As soon as we develop that customer loyalty we are going to be looking to expand—all within the confines of what is permitted by law. We have no intention, in fact it is stated on the Gaming Commission website, of offering any class III gaming. So, we won’t have any slots or house-banked games. Nothing like that, if until the state of California licenses those kinds of games. We are actually for state [legalization of online poker]. After two years of developing our enterprise, we have some knowledge to share with the state. One of the reasons we built the responsible gambling program that we did was to offer that to the state if and when it legalizes online gaming. It could be a model adopted by others. To answer your question directly: What you see now in the free-play version is what you will see when we flip the switch on for real-money. It will only be available to California residents, who are 18 years or older, and who are located within California [at the time of play].

BP: Are there plans to eventually offer games to people in other countries?

DV: Anything is possible within the confines of what is permitted by law and what the tribe decides is a smart business decision. Our immediate plans right now are to do the best we can in the enterprise that we spent the last two years developing…I would imagine the federal government would have something to say about [this] if the activity expanded beyond the bounds of the state.

BP: Do you anticipate other tribes in California, or across the U.S., following you into the real-money online poker business?

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DV: We hope so. We have received inquiries from tribes throughout the state asking us questions. We are more than willing to assist others, and I think we mentioned on PrivateTable.com about establishing an affiliate program. We are encouraging other tribes to follow us because we feel our product is solid and economically viable. Ultimately, it will benefit the tribe and we are looking forward to that. Our tribe, with nearly 1,000 members and 50,000 acres, is sourly in need of infrastructure improvements and economic development. We are excited to be able to provide that for the tribe.

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