Maryland Gambling Laws

Maryland Poker Laws

Is Online Poker / Gambling Legal in Maryland?

The State of Maryland is an anti-gambling state. The Old Line State is dead set against almost all types of gambling, including poker and other card games. Maryland laws currently on the books essentially outlaw all forms of poker within state lines. The state does not have any legal card rooms or casinos, and reading the penal code, it is clear that all private home poker games are illegal and can result in some stiff penalties. Naturally, there are exceptions built in, so if you want to play poker in Maryland, you have to dig into the state’s laws.

Is Online Poker Legal or Illegal in Maryland?

Fortunately for online poker fans, Maryland still hasn’t updated their very extensive anti-poker laws to include Internet poker. In fact, there is no mention of any kind of digital gambling in the state’s laws. It’s clear that it is illegal to place a wager in the state, but it would be impossible for Maryland to track and find online poker players, so it is unlikely that you’d get caught or charged with a crime in Maryland for playing poker on the Internet.

That said, the majority of poker sites accepting US players have banned Maryland players from playing on site. We only know of two poker sites accepting Maryland players - BetOnline and Sportsbetting Poker.

Maryland Poker Laws - Are Home Games Legal in Maryland?

Almost all forms of gambling are outlawed according to Maryland law. In fact, the very first law relating to gaming in the state’s law books says specifically that “a person may not bet, wager, or gamble.” That’s state bill 12-102, and it covers pretty much any wagering that goes on in the state. The state of Maryland could use this one line to prosecute anyone for any kind of gambling, no matter the game.

Are there exceptions to this law? Yes, but none of them will help out poker players. Some counties in Maryland allow the types of charitable organizations normally given the chance to offer games of chance and skill to raise money, and there are plenty of legal horseracing courses in the state. But no poker of any sort can be found in these gaming houses.

State law 12-104 sets the penalty for any form of gambling pretty high. The two most important aspects of state law that define gambling say that it is expressly illegal to:

“ . . . own, rent, or occupy all or a part of a building, vessel, or place and knowingly allow a gaming device to be kept in the building, vessel, or place . . .” and “lease or rent all or a part of a building, vessel, or place to be used for the purpose of gambling . . .”

It may seem like as long as you don’t do those things, you can get away with poker in Maryland, but the state is anti-poker in a big way, and that statute at the beginning of the article gives the state a loophole for prosecuting any type of gambling they want.

Learn About Other State Laws

Maryland Casino Poker

Since Maryland doesn’t have what most people would consider traditional casinos, it is easy to say that Maryland doesn’t have casino poker, either. Besides racetracks for horse betting, Maryland doesn’t have much in the way of casino gaming. You’ll find a few slot and video poker machines in the state, but any actual poker game is completely illegal here.

The proximity of Maryland to Atlantic City means that most gamblers are headed to the Jersey shore to do their gambling anyway, and even though that means millions of dollars lost to poker in New Jersey from Maryland citizen’s wallets, the state will still not consider legalizing gambling.