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Playing Online Poker in the State of Maryland

Maryland
Maryland Flag

Maryland, like many states, doesn’t have any specific laws on the books about playing online poker. Rest assured that you can play real money Maryland online poker without a hitch because the laws on gambling in general are never enforced against people playing cards privately on their computers.

Since the Federal government of the United States has no laws on the books that preclude individuals from engaging in this activity, players who wish to engage in online poker from Maryland are free to play to their heart's content without fear of prosecution. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 has been determined by the Department of Justice to not apply to poker at all. All you need to do is find safe sites to play on. Maryland has been a bit rough on operators, which has caused fewer sites to offer services to those in the state.  Luckily, not all operators have been scared off, and there are still some great options available to those who want to play poker from this great state.

 

What Online Poker Sites Can I Play in Maryland?

Maryland has slim pickings when it comes to real money online poker options, at least, slimmer than other states. There are only four reputable palces that provide poker services to the state. Those four are Chico Poker Network, Grand Poker Network, Nitrogen Poker, and SwcPoker.

All of the sites below are safe and legal.  You will not get into any trouble for playing poker on these sites!  Professional Rakeback has vetted these sites as well. They all pay out, no scams to be found in these lists. We only offer legit sites to our readers. How do we know they are legit? We are professional poker players, and we play on these sites ourselves!

 

        Chico Network

Icons Representing Chico Network's Advantages

Sportsbetting.ag is the Chico Poker Network site that we recommend for Marylanders. It was formerly nothing special, but it has seen significant growth in the traffic rankings lately to become the third-largest destination for real-money online poker avialable to Americans today. SB.ag is ready to welcome you with a 100% first deposit bonus up to a maximum value of $2,500!

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The bonus is worth 33% of your rake back in ring games, SNGS, and multi-table tournaments. Besides this wonderful free cash, you can improve your haul even further by competing for leaderboard positions as you play. There are three weekly leaderboards (cash, sit-n-go, and MTT), and they award a total of $20,000 combined. What's more, you'll get comp points as you particpate in the games you enjoy, and these can be exchanged for tournament entries worth about 5% rakeback.

You'll be able to play as low as $0.01/$0.02 and as high as $5/$10 in No Limit Texas Hold'em poker and Pot Limit Omaha. If PLO/8 is your game, then you're in luck because you'll find a few tables here albeit not at the same broad range of stakes as the other big-bet formats. The sit-and-go lobby is surprisingly busy with contests listed from $0.05 + $0 up to $500 + $25. The selection of large-field tournaments is a bit weak here because most of them are for less than $35, and so the prize pools aren't anything to get excited about. The exception to this is the Main Event, a Sunday $90 + $9 tourney that guarantees $50,000. On the last Sunday of every month, it increases to a $100 + $9 buyin and a $100K guarantee.

You can play at Sportsbetting on a Windows computer or a Mac using the provided poker client download software packages. Another means for accessing the games is through your smartphone or tablet because of the app that's provided for this purpose as long as you're running either iOS or Android. This full-featured mobile solution supports almost all the games you'll see in the regular desktop lobby, and it even allows you to multitable smoothly – a rarity in the mobile poker space. So no matter what type of system you wish to use, Sportsbetting.ag is a fine choice.

ProfRB's cta for Sportsbetting.ag

If you think that Sportsbetting.ag is what you have been looking for in a poker site then click the banner above. Read our carefully crafted Sportsbetting.ag review for more details before you sign up. Or you can check out its sister site BetOnline!

 

        Grand Network

Grand Network's positive features image

Grand Poker Network only opened for business in late 2014, but you can trust in its integrity because it's managed by the 5Dimes Group, a trusted brand for sportsbooks and casinos for many years running. This room is still growing, so traffic levels tend to be a bit low, but it's the perfect place if you just want to play a table or two after work or on the weekends. 5Dimes has some of the lowest rake we've seen in the industry, and it drops down even lower when you consider the 50% rakeback that you'll receive when you register your new account using our links.

Your rakeback won't be paid directly into your account. Instead you'll use your Grand Poker Points to enter special SNGs. These contests pay out the equivalent of 50% rakeback to everyone except the winner, who receives 100% effective rakeback. So really, 50% is the baseline, and you can do much better if you're an especially skilled player.

Ring games are spread only from $0.05/$0.10 to $1/$2, and you'd be hard pressed to find anything other than NLHE actually running although Omaha, Omaha/8, and Hold'em are present in big-bet and fixed-limit formats. The cool thing about these games, though, is that they're usually extremely soft. Because this is a smaller site, professional pokerists haven't really caught onto it yet, and so it's populated mainly by fish. Taking a seat here is one of the best things you could do for your overall online poker profitability. Another way to raise your winnings is by registering for the NO-FEE Tournaments that are held several times per day for microstakes.

Banner CTA for 5Dimes

To become a member at 5Dimes and get access to the poker room, follow the link provided above. Otherwise, browse through our Grand Poker Network review page.

 

Nitrogen Poker

You can avoid the interference of banks and governments by indulging in poker at Nitrogen Sports; for it uses the cryptocurrency Bitcoin for all transactions and gameplay. There's no welcome bonus here, but you will be able to take advantage of Nitro rewards in the form of free bitcoins to your account balance and free bets to use on the sporting contests of your choice.

Most games are microstakes cash tables, but you'll occassionally be able to book higher-stakes action particularly if you sit down at an empty table and wait for your adversaries to approach you. The tournament selection, while a bit sparse, does contain frequent guarantees and sometimes-considerable overlays. There are plenty of freerolls here, some open to all and others restricted to those who meet certain playing requirements. However you prefer to make your earnings – ring games, buyin tourneys, or freerolls – you'll be able to get your winnings almost immediately due to the fast payments made possible by the Bitcoin Network.

Nitrogen Sports, Join up Today!

Follow the banner above to try out the BTC tables at Nitrogen today. We've gathered together a lot of data about this room, and you can look it over in our comprehensive Nitrogen Sports Poker web page.

 

SwCPoker

SwCPoker's positive attributes image

You may have heard of Seals With Clubs, the first-ever online cardroom where the table action was denominated in digital Bitcoins. Well, that room closed down but not before spawning its replacement: SwCPoker. Through the Krill system, you'll get rakeback that gets higher and higher the more you play over the lifetime of your account. There's also tablestarter rakeback that kicks in at 50% whenever you play heads-up or three-handed ring tables.

You'll find a breadth of game types that's unmatched by any other site serving the Old Line State. No Limit Hold'em, Limit Hold'em, LO8, stud, triple draw lowball, HORSE, and Open Face Chinese are just a few of them. Because there are so many types of poker available at the same time, it can be a challenge to get a table going. Fortunately, there's a Request Action button and a site-wide chatbox, both of which can assist you in luring others to join your games.

SwC Poker - play now CTA

For a taste of something a bit different, click above on the banner, and proceed to create your new SwC account. If you're the type of person who likes to know as much as possible before making a decision, then consult our info-loaded overview of the SwCPoker operation.

 


 

Selecting a Good Site for Online Poker in Maryland

There are only a few options for internet-based card games in Maryland, but this doesn't mean that you should just settle for any one of them. The right poker destination for you may not be the same as for your neighbor because each of these sites is better than its competitors in some areas and worse in others. We've compiled a list of suggestions to lend you a hand in selecting the correct option for you personally.

+ If you want to be able to choose from the most active games running at any given time, then the Chico Network is where you should be.


+ If you're looking for the best possible rakeback deal, then Grand's 50% through rewards sit-n-gos should appeal to you


+ If you feel that continuing rewards are an important factor, then Nitrogen will present you with bitcoins and free bets every now and again.


+ If mobile or Mac compatibility is something you seek, then Chico, Grand, and Nitrogen are all good choices.


+ If you enjoy poker games other than Hold'em and Omaha, then SwCPoker has the most extensive lineup of them.


+ If you want to play in bitcoins and only in bitcoins, then Nitrogen and SwC are the winning solutions for you.

 

Payout Report

Black Money Bag

Players can expect no real difference in the payout times from Maryland than the rest of the states chronicled in our report. Grand Poker Network, Chico Poker Network, Nitrogen, and SwCPoker all have Bitcoin withdrawal options that make payouts exceptionally fast. Other methods are also decenly fast, but they're not nearly as speedy as Bitcoin. We therefore issue a strong recommendation to all our players that they utilize crypto-currency. No matter what methods you choose for funding and payouts, these sites provide honest transaction processing and short waiting times.

 

Maryland Gambling Laws

Law Book

When setting up the gambling rules in Maryland, lawmakers didn’t stop short of making them as broad as humanly possible. Definitions of illegal gambling are more or less broadly defined depending on how the activity is viewed by the state in question, and suffice it to say that the Maryland authorities have a very dim opinion of gambling in general. The parts of the Maryland statutes that govern wagering activities are contained in Title 12 - Gaming -- Statewide Provisions and Title 13 -  Gaming -- Local Provisions. It's Title 12 that we're interested in today because Title 13 contains a bunch of provisions and different regulations dealing with games of chance in each specific county of Maryland but not the state as a whole. In MD Crim Law Code § 12-103 (2016), it says:

(a) Prohibited. -- For money or any other thing or consideration of value, a person may not play:
   (1) the game called "thimbles";
   (2) the game called "little joker";
   (3) dice or the game commonly called "craps"; or
   (4) any other gaming device or fraudulent trick.
(b) Penalty. -- A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to imprisonment for not less than 6 months and not exceeding 2 years or a fine not exceeding $ 100 or both.

At first glance, this seems to just target specific games, some of which are pretty obscure. The heart of these provisions is contained in the fourth example listed: "any gaming device or fraudulent trick." In the definitions for this section of law (MD Crim Law Code § 12-101 (2016)), we can see that "gaming device" includes tables where games of chance are played, devices that allow money to be wagered, and certain named pieces of equipment, like wheels of fortune and bingo. The language employed here is an odd combination of sweeping phrasing along with precise identifications of specific types of gambling paraphernalia. Since such everyday objects as tables are considered gaming devices when put to the purpose of facilitating betting, it's not impossible that a computer would also fall into this category if it's used to transmit wagering information, like for playing online poker.

There's another anti-gambling law on the books in Maryland that's only applicable to Baltimore City. It is MD Crim Law Code § 12-103 (2016):

(a) Prohibited. -- A person may not:
   (1) bet, wager, or gamble;
   (2) make or sell a book or pool on the result of a race, contest, or contingency;
   (3) establish, keep, rent, use, or occupy, or knowingly allow to be established, kept,
    rented, used, or occupied, all or a part of a building, vessel, or place, on land or water,
    within the State, for the purpose of:
     (i) betting, wagering, or gambling; or
     (ii) making, selling, or buying books or pools on the result of a race, contest, or
      contingency;

The wording of this section is even stronger than in the law that applies to the whole of Maryland, so in Baltimore, playing internet poker is almost surely prohibited. The good news is that these provisions have never been directed against an individual player for going online and opening up a few tables. The only regular citizens who have found themselves in trouble with these laws are those who were partaking in illicit live poker games. We must mention as well that there have been an unusually high number of fraudsters who got caught in this state for trying to pass off counterfeit casino chips. Other parts of the Maryland legal code deal with maintaining a physical gambling operation and receiving or forwarding payments to be used by others for gambling. As long as you refrain from these practices and play on your computer alone in your home, you'll be perfectly fine.

A quick note for social poker players – in May 2016, HB127 was signed into law allowing for home games. There must not be more than $1,000 wagered by all players during a 24-hour period, and the home game cannot occur more frequently than once per week. No entrance fees can be charged, nor can there be money taken for food or drink. The person running the game cannot profit from it except through his or her winnings as a player.

 

How do Offshore Gambling Sites view Maryland?

Binoculars

Maryland is not the friendliest place for online operators to do business. This isn't because of the existence of strict laws; indeed, there are few additional penalties attached to operating an illegal gambling enterprise beyond those that apply to the players as well. The skittishness on the part of companies to offer online real-money gaming to Maryland's residents stems more from actual enforcement actions taken by the state. It was in Maryland that the “Blue Tuesday” seizure of domain names belonging to poker sites came in 2012. Also in the same year, Bodog founder Calvin Ayre was indicted, and the charges were filed in MD. The Ayre case was resolved five years later in 2017. We certainly can't blame firms from avoiding Maryland given the role the state played in the financial lossess and criminal prosecutions that have bedeviled their peers.

Some states get very defensive of their infant industries when they are trying to grow, and land-based casinos are certainly one for the state of Maryland. This may be a reason for the crackdowns although the fact that state agencies get a portion of the assets repossessed as part of their criminal investigations is surely relevant as well.

 

History of Gambling in Maryland

Race Horse and Jockey

Wagering pastimes have a long and storied history in Maryland. Even before the United States was formed, colonial gentlemen demonstrated how refined and wealthy they were through horse racing, an expensive hobby what with the costs of breeding horses, maintaining racetracks, and, of course, gambling on the outcomes. The Maryland Jockey Club was started in Annapolis in 1743, making it the first organized sporting association in the United States. Yet, there was always a countervailing moralistic streak in the hearts of Marylanders, and the pro- and anti-gambling factions have struggled against each other for much of the state's history.

Even the Jockey Club had to suspend operations during the Revolutionary War because the demands of the conflict superseeded the racing of horses. Perhaps the state was feeling a financial pinch stemming from that war because in 1791, it permitted lotteries to occur with the proceeds being used for public works. Despite the fact that they were run by churches, these lotteries featured so much cheating and shenanigans that new lottery licenses stopped being issued in 1834 although the final lotteries didn't come to an end until 1860.

Given what we've just said above about Maryland's longstanding tradition of horse racing, it makes perfect sense that parimutuel wagering was the first form of betting legalized after the lottery ban. In 1920, the Maryland Racing Commission began to oversee all such activities, and today, there are six tracks throughout the state.

An effort was made to revive lotteries in 1934, but it came to naught. Instead, the next form of legalized gambling to appear was slot machines in the '40s. They weren't legal everywhere in Maryland, but they were in a few South Maryland counties that approved of them. At the time, this was the only place in the country outside of Nevada for legitimate slot machine gaming. The machines could be found in corner stores, gas stations, highway rest areas, and basically in any other structure that had room for them. These slots, while popular, were politically divisive, and they were finally banned in 1968.

In 1972, a modern state lottery was finally introduced. Not much else happened in Maryland gambling for a few decades, but then in 2008, voters passed a referendum allowing five casinos. At first, they only contained slots, but casino card games and finally poker were added several years later. In 2016, the legislature removed most of the remaining prohibitions on home poker games.

 

Regulation Chances for Online Poker

File Folder and Page

The chances of regulation in Maryland are about average in comparison to the rest of the states in the US. The electorate tends to lean a bit more conservative than one might think, but it isn’t anything ridiculous that would make it impossible to see legislation regulating poker impossible. Indeed, when commercial casino gaming was first being legalized, mention was made of adding online gambling to the mix, but nothing came of these first halting steps. With Maryland now being home to a major casino that has proven to be very popular, especially among poker players, it’s a little easier to see legislation happening as well, because it would just be another revenue stream for the Maryland government. It’s much easier to get online poker passed once the door has been opened for more gambling in the state, especially if revenues from casinos stay high and the citizens can see that they aren't bringing about the negative effects that opponents like to bring up.

 

Land Based Gambling

Maryland Live Casino Logo

Maryland is home to four major types of gambling with state lotteries, casino gambling, charitable organization gambling and parimutuel betting. The only major type of gambling not on this list is tribal gaming, which isn’t actually present in Maryland likely because of the small size of the state and thus lack of tribal lands. The Maryland state lottery is a very well-known and established brand that has been around for a very long time. The MD state lottery actually is in coorperation with many other states so that they can offer large prize pools. The charitable organization gaming aspect of the gambling scene is also much larger than it is in the average state, because of its proximity to Washington D.C. and the natural fundraising opportunities that it presents.

The live gaming scene in Maryland is not one that is well established though, at least not on a national scale. That is quickly changing though as Maryland Live! Is becoming more of a well-known and established brand. The casino opened in 2012 but was only slot machines at the outset. By 2013, the full casino was opened and now it houses one of the more active poker rooms on the east coast. As the casino continues to grow it will become more well-known and will be an obvious choice to spearhead regulated online gaming if the state were to approve it. It is not currently known if either has an interest in regulating internet gambing, but it is easy to see why Maryland Live! would be the most obvious candidate to move it along if it were to happen.

 

Final Words

Online poker in Maryland isn't as booming as it is in some other states, but there are still a few sites for state residents to choose among. Maryland online poker is certainly a welcome diversion from the hassles of everyday living, and you can enjoy this hobby safely, securely, and without worrying about legal prosecution.

 

Do you have an address in a nearby state?

States Adjacent to Maryland

If you are lucky enough to have another address in a nearby state, be it your business address, summer home, second apartment, family home, etc, you may have other online poker options available to you.  Here are a list of the states that border Maryland and Professional Rakeback's review on each of them: Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Delaware.  If you are the type that flies far and wide, perhaps you have a residence in a state not listed above. In that case, please take a look at our more comprehensive real money online poker guide.

 

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