Pokers Law & Online Gambling in Minnesota

Minnesota Poker Laws

Is Online Poker / Gambling Legal in Minnesota?

Minnesota is the state that many poker professionals call home, a state where gambling laws are relatively liberal. As long as poker players follow the rules set down in the state’s penal code, Minnesota is a poker-friendly state, making private home games explicitly legal under the right circumstances and refusing to rule that online gambling should be made illegal. Minnesota is not part of the group of 8 US states with laws making online poker and other games illegal – the state’s laws lean in the other direction. Though the state legislature has not yet announced a move to legalize and regulate online gambling, like New Jersey or Iowa, shrinking state budgets and a better understanding of the world of Internet wagering means the state may soon legalize the game, or offer poker, slots, and other games through state-licensed sites.

State Poker Law in Minnesota

Reading the penal code of Minnesota’s entry on gambling, most of which is written in Statute 609.75, should only take you a few minutes. Minnesota’s position on gambling is easy to understand – gambling is allowed under certain conditions and explicitly illegal in others. No law in Minnesota makes playing poker online illegal.
Of course, even states with large portions of poker-friendly legislators have their share of anti-gambling voices. Starting in 2009, one member of the state government’s small anti-Internet betting contingent has suggested a law that bans Minnesota-based Internet Service Providers from allowing their customers to access Internet casinos and poker rooms. Every year since, including a planned attempt in the 2013 legislature session, a member of Minnesota’s state government has suggested a ban on Internet betting. So far, this movement has not had any impact on the law of the land.

Legality of Private Poker Games in Minnesota

Before we get into the complexities of Internet gambling law, let’s look at the simplest poker game and the laws surrounding it: private games you put together with a few of your buddies and hold in the privacy of your own home. In the state of Minnesota, poker games in the privacy of a citizen’s home is explicitly legal - an accepted form of gambling in the eyes of the state government. Minnesota state law states: “Social bets are allowed only if they are done in a private social setting,” with the key word there being only. Put together a poker tournament in a private social setting and your game is totally legal.

Home games are only illegal in Minnesota if they aren’t held privately or if the game’s host can be shown to be running a commercial and profitable enterprise related to gambling. In other words, you can’t profit simply for hosting the game, or require an entry fee or other payment for the game; that makes you a business, and it makes your game illegal. This doesn’t mean the host can’t win – legitimate profits from gambling are legal. Don’t participate in any private poker game that requires a fee or the rental of cards or other equipment – it may be an illegal game.

Online Poker Law in Minnesota

Some states in the US are leaning towards taxing, regulating, and providing poker and other casino games to their citizens: in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and New York, state government are actively working towards providing legal online poker through state-run entities. Minnesota is not yet one of those states pushing for legalization, but at the same time the state is not actively trying to make online gambling illegal. Like most of the USA, Minnesotans playing online card games or slot machines exist in a legal neutral zone, with no law preventing their game, but no laws addressing their game, either.

The short answer is that yes, online poker is legal for Minnesotans, though any gambler in the US will have to deal with the restrictions of the UIGEA when they try to fund their accounts. Methods for funding online poker accounts from the US exist, but it’s a bit harder for a person living in the Land of the 10,000 Lakes (or any other part of the USA) to add and remove money to and from their bankroll.

Learn About Other State Laws

Federal Law & Poker in Minnesota

If you are concerned about the Federal Wire Act of 1961, and how it may make all forms of Internet casino play illegal, you don’t fully understand the Act. A widely-held belief says that the Wire Act means the federal government has made all types of gambling over “wire communication” systems illegal, including Internet play.
The Wire Act is an old bill from a time when communication was simple compared to modern technology. The Wire Act was an attempt to prevent illegal sports betting. In December, 2011, the United States Department of Justice went out of their way to state that this act regulates sports gambling only, essentially declaring online games of chance and skill fully legal. Federal law does not prevent any US citizen from betting online, though it probably will limit how they can fund their bankroll.