Maryland Legal Poker

Last Update: March 20, 2015

Online poker

Maryland has been talking the talk but they haven’t been walking the walk… at least not yet.

Despite considering the expansion of gambling in the state as recently as the 2012 election, and sending spokespeople to iGaming hearings, Maryland has never looked at explicitly authorizing or prohibiting online gaming and online poker. Betting on anything in the state that isn’t specifically authorized by law is illegal, but operators whose online poker sites are outside the state may exist beyond the jurisdiction of Maryland law.

The question remains unsettled and unaddressed by Maryland courts.

Maryland is expected to launch an online lottery in 2015.

Live Poker

In 2012, Maryland voters approved an expansion of live gambling in the state that included the authorization, for the first time ever, of a casino in the Baltimore area that will be licensed to offer poker and table games. That casino will be the Horseshoe Baltimore, operated by Caesars Entertainment Corp.

Prior to that voter approval (and continuing until mid-2014, when the Horseshoe is scheduled to open), live poker was impossible to find in Maryland. That’s because Maryland Criminal Law §12-102 makes the act of betting, wagering or gambling a misdemeanor. By defining the crime in terms of betting, Maryland gets around the “chance versus skill” debate.

Note that there is no exception in Maryland law for social or home games. Betting on absolutely anything is illegal by the strict terms of the statute unless it authorized by some other statute. This is true no matter where the bet takes places and no matter under what conditions.

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