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Louisiana Online Poker - How & Where to Legally Play for Real $$$

Louisiana Online Cardrooms

What Online Poker Sites Can I Play in Louisiana? Playing online poker in Louisiana legally might seem like a forgone conclusion considering that New Orleans is one of the largest party destinations in the United States, and there are half a dozen cities in the state with large casino resorts. However, the laws that pertain to Louisiana online poker are less than favorable on the surface.  But luckily, they are toothless laws, which were put on the books over two decades ago and have never been enforced against a citizen, not even once!

The outdated laws that might deter one from enjoying an online game found their way onto the books back when the cities of Lake Charles and Shreveport were bringing riverboat gambling to their respective cities. A law, §90.3, was passed prohibiting "gambling by computer" in the 1990s. This law appears to target the operators of online gambling websites and not individual gamblers. Moreover, not a single person has ever been indicted or prosecuted for playing poker in the state (or anywhere else in the United States for that matter). The law itself imposes a fairly small penalty, a $500 fine, if in some bizarro universe the state ever went after an individual. 

In fact, a search through the Louisiana gambling laws yields only five mentions of the word "poker" at all.  Every single one of them is preceded by the word "video."  The laws regarding video poker are serious business. Video poker is big money in Louisiana and can be found at thousands of bars, diners, truck stops, etc. However, video poker and online poker are two completely different things and the video poker laws do not apply to Internet poker. The state of LA has ignored Internet poker, much like the overwhelming majority of other states. 

Offshore poker sites, for the most part, have thus decided to allow Louisiana residents to play online poker freely on their websites. Louisianans have a rather large selection of sites with solid bonuses available to them. Keep reading below for a full list of poker sites that accept players from the state of Louisiana and what they have to offer.

 

Online Poker Sites Available in Louisiana

The venues for online poker in Louisiana range in quality from the upstanding and honest to the unscrupulous and disreputable. We fully realize that it can be challenging to differentiate between the two groups, which is why we've gone ahead and done this chore for you. We've taken a look at software, dealing procedures and certifications, promotions, and payout speeds to bring to you a list of the top Louisiana online poker sites. You'll be treated right no matter which of the below poker operators you trust with your cash.

 

Ignition Poker

Positive Features of Ignition Casino Poker

Ignition Poker, which is part of the PaiWangLuo Poker Network, is our number one option for players from Louisiana. New players can take advantage of a generous deposit bonus of up to $2,000 ($1,000 max for poker, $1,000 max for casino). Small depositors will note that their bonus clears at an astounding 100% rakeback equivalent. For the high rollers taking advantage of the full $1,000 poker bonus, it will clear at a 30% effective rate.

  Ignition Poker Banner CTA

The game quality at Ignition is also top-notch. Ignition has some very easy tournaments and cash games relative to the all other online sites, domestic and international. And boy do they have a lot of them! This is undoubtedly a consequence of the anonymized tables here that permit every user to remain unidentifiable while playing. Professional players are therefore unable to engage in long-term player tracking strategies, which makes newcomers feel more comfortable. This is the biggest available site for American cash game poker. If you add in the tournament and sit and go players, the traffic numbers truly eclipse the average internet poker room.

Ignition is mobile-friendly, so you can fire up a quick cash game any time you have a spare 10 minutes to kill, and the entire lineup of games is present in the mobile client. Both Windows and Mac gaming software ensure maximum compatibility with your devices and maximum opportunity to partake in those soft games. By the way, the cash games they offer include: Hold'em in both fixed and no limit versions, Omaha in pot limit and fixed limit, and Omaha high low in fixed limit and pot limit. Another form of cash game that's worthy of mention is called Zone Poker. It's a fast-fold type of poker, meaning that whenever anyone folds his or her hand, that player moves instantly to another table to begin a new hand. This cuts down on waiting time significantly, and you can therefore grind through hands much more rapidly than you could in a standard ring game.

They have a 1.5 million dollar plus per week tournament schedule that culminates in a 100k guaranteed event each Sunday. And they have a big variety of regular-speed and fast-speed sit and go tournaments. Cash games start at the penny stakes and end at $2,000 high roller buy-ins. Likewise tournaments and SNGs start in the $1 range and go up to $540 events. There are also Jackpot Sit & Go lottery-style contests. Don't miss the frequent tourney series that are spread throughout the year, which typically pay out millions of dollars in prizes. Examples of these series include the Super Millions Poker Open and the Golden Spade Poker Open.

Ignition also has an online casino with a $1,000 initial bonus and unlimited $1,000 Bitcoin reload bonuses available to LA-based players. They offer hundreds of casino games, if you are into that sort of thing, and they can all be accessed from both desktop and laptop machines.

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If you would like to start playing Ignition Poker from the comfort of your own home or the convenience of your mobile device, then you can click the link above to get the best deposit bonus offer available! For further info on the poker site before you sign up, consult our comprehensive Ignition Casino Poker review.

 

Chico Network

Chico Network's Good Points

Chico Poker Network, which counts Sportsbetting.ag among its members, has seen a fairly meteoric rise in its traffic over the past couple of years. This has made the network an intriguing possibility for many players as they offer good games, a Sit n’ Go leaderboard, and many other promotions. While they don’t offer rakeback, there is a 100% bonus up to $1,000 that clears at a rate of 20% of your rake and fees paid back to you.

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This room is a good option for sit-n-go players and full ring cash game players as both are fairly popular variants on the site. The cash game action is pretty solid thanks to the heavy crossover traffic from the sportsbook and casino thus resulting in fewer pro players at the tables. Games starting at 5 cent / 10 cent and going all the way up to $10 / $20 are available pretty much around the clock. Unfortunately, while Chico is great for cash games such as No Limit Holdem and Pot Limit Omaha, they are lacking somewhat when it comes to tournaments. The tournament action is geared toward lower-stakes players with buyins ranging from $1-$22. Above that level, there aren't many high dollar buy-in events to partake in. The exception to this comes on Sundays, when there's a $90 + $9 Main Event with $50,000 guaranteed. On the last Sunday of each month, this gets bumped up to a $100 + $9 buyin and $100,000 up for grabs.

Chico Network also has a very robust and active sportsbook as well as an online casino option for players. There are dozens of promotions across the sportsbook and casino that we can't comfortably fit into this article, and besides, they are constantly changing. Our only word of warning when taking a gambling bonus at a Chico site is that they will not let players withdraw funds until the bonus is cleared or expires, which means that your funds will typically be locked down for 30-90 days depending on what type of bonus you take. The good news is that once you do decide to withdraw your winnings, the payout options are quite varied and above industry norms in terms of speed. They offer bank wires and Bitcoin and everything in-between.

Back to poker for a second, let's discuss the promos specific to card games at Sportsbetting.ag. There are SNG leaderboards that hand out a total of $5,275 each week as well as cash game challenges worth $1,100 every single day. Furthermore, a comp points programs allows you to earn free tourney buyins at a rate of about 5% rakeback equivalent. If you're an NLHE player, then you can participate in a Bad Beat Jackpot at specially designated tables of $0.50/$1.00 and above. This jackpot has been activated for more than $1 million before.

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If you think that SB.ag is what you have been looking for in a comprehensive gambling site, then you can follow the banner above to create your new account now. It may be wise to read our review of Sportsbetting.ag too. Or for an alternate room on the same network, head over to our BetOnline review.

 

Bovada Poker

Bovada's Advantageous Features

Bovada is the sister site of Ignition, and so the games and promos available are mostly the same. The poker deposit bonus for Bovada is smaller, however, because it's a 100% up to $500 deal. The casino bonus is identical to Ignition's at 100% up to $1,000, but at Bovada, you can use it three times for a total of $3,000 in complimentary casino funds!

  Bovada Poker Play Now CTA

Welcome bonuses aside, the main advantage of Bovada is the sportsbook that it contains, which Ignition lacks. It has its own bonus too, which is 50% up to $250. Bet on football, baseball, hockey, basketball, and a number of other athletic contests from the United States and all around the world. There are even politics and entertainment sections where you can wager on, for example, the winner of the next presidential election and the outcomes of your favorite reality TV shows.

Bovada rounds out its product lineup with a racebook carrying horse races from more than 80 tracks in the United States and a similar number from the United Kingdom and Ireland. A smattering of South African races is also covered.

You'll score points with each sports bet and casino wager you place to advance through the Bovada Rewards program and claim bonuses and cashback. The value gets even better if you're a partisan of Bitcoin because there are bonuses that are exclusive to this payment channel. The total haul possible for BTC depositors is $5,500 ($4,500 casino, $500 sports, and $500 poker).

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If poker, casino, and sports all from a single account appeals to you, then click the link above to become a customer at Bovada today. We've researched and written a thorough Bovada Poker review page, which may interest you.

 

Winning Network

WPN's Positive Features

Winning Poker Network, which consists of about a dozen skins cooperating and sharing players in a large network, is the second-largest poker room available to players from Louisiana. The safest room on this network, available to players in this state, is Americas Cardroom. When you open up a new account, you'll be able to claim a 100% up to $1,000 bonus and $50 free to play the games you love.

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Cash game selection here is the widest range of any US-friendly offshore site. Games range from $2 max buy-in all the way up to $5,000 max buy-in games. Most of the traffic is centered around NLHE and PLO, however, there is a good bit of Omaha hi/lo action and also some semi-regular 7-card stud games.

Sit and Go action is centered around Jackpot Poker, a three-man game wherein the prize pool varies from 2x the buy-in up to 2,500x the buy-in! The games are hyper-turbo in nature and are a fun way to kill off 5-7minutes of your time (note the quick average game times). There are normal sit n' goes as well at stakes both inexpensive and exorbitant.

Tournament action on WPN is very robust. Each week they offer a Sunday Special tournament that costs $200 + $15 to enter and comes with a guaranteed prize pool of $150,000 USD. For more average players, the Monday-Friday tournament schedule is excellent and rivals that of any other online site, including our top pick of Ignition. Several times per year, you can attempt to collect your share of big-field tournament payouts with the series that ACR runs, including the Online Super Series.

The site also offers many value-added promotions for cash game, tournament, and sit-n-go players. For example, high-end players will enjoy the “Beast” cash game weekly rake race to pad their bankrolls while low-end players will appreciate the “Freebuy” tournaments where free tournament entries and cash prizes are available without spending a nickel of your own money. Sit-n-goers have the Sit & Crush leaderboard to try to climb. The Elite Benefits VIP program is for all users, regardless of the forms of poker they play, and the compensation you receive gets larger and larger the more you play!

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If this sounds appealing to you, please use our link above to sign up at Americas Cardroom. To find out more about ACR before signing up, browse over to our Americas Cardroom Poker review article.

Americas Cardroom is the flagship of the Winning Poker Network, but it's not the only fine poker organization to call WPN home. You see, this poker network pools the knowledge and experience of all its partners together to come up with a superb poker offering that beats what each individual firm could accomplish on its own. Black Chip Poker (read review) and True Poker (read review) are a couple of the other premier skins on the Winning Network. You can opt for rakeback instead of Elite Benefits at any of these rooms. To find out how, read our WPN rakeback specials page.

 

Grand Network

GPN Positive Features Image

Grand Poker Network may be the newest poker room on this list, but their parent company has been around for two decades. 5Dimes Group is one of the most trusted names in sports betting, known for taking very large bets from recreational gamblers and pros alike. They don't discriminate between these two categories of customers, which is rare at an online sportsbook. The reputation they have built up over the years in the gambling industry has transferred over to their new poker room venture, and potential players should have no issues trusting such a site in a welcome change from the fear that typically goes along with newer, unproven rooms. While the traffic is geared toward smaller stakes currently, the room is still growing thanks to offering an aggressive 50%+ rakeback deal through Professional Rakeback as well as soft games from all the casino and sports bettors punting at the poker tables after big scores. That is the hallmark of the room, and it is a great opportunity for players to take advantage of.

Of particular note at 5Dimes are the tournaments. While they do cap out at a fairly low $5.50 maximum buyin, there are a few events every day that have NO HOUSE FEES. This is beneficial whether you're a novice or a pro because the fees in tournaments act as a drag to the profitability of any player. There's a further perk available at the Grand Network that's tailored especially to those on small bankrolls: a $500 freeroll that runs every Sunday.

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To become a member at 5Dimes and gain access to their casino, sportsbook and poker clients, as well as 50%+ poker rakeback, follow the link provided above. Inform yourself of all the specifics of this network with our accurate Grand Poker Network review.


 

How to Choose the Right Louisiana Poker Site

All of the poker operations we've just gone over are excellent arenas for online cards, and we can't really name any single one as the best. This is because they all have their own particular strengths and drawbacks. The best site for you may not be the same as it is for your neighbor. You'll have to take a look at the characteristics of each room and attempt to gauge how well they will satisfy your needs. Although it's impossible for us to tell you exactly where to play, we do have a list of factors that may merit your close consideration:

° If you are most concerned about player volume, then Ignition, Bovada, and WPN are the three most heavily trafficked sites for U.S. online poker.


° If you're keen on scoring a large first deposit bonus, then Ignition, WPN, and Chico all have  $1,000 up for grabs.


° If you like to bet on sports and casino games every once in a while, Chico, Bovada, and Grand are all first-rate organizations.


° If playing from a Mac or mobile appeals to you, then Chico, Ignition, Bovada, and Grand support the cross-platform gaming you seek.


° If you intend to set up a rakeback account, then Grand's 50% and WPN's 27% possibilities might intrigue you.


° If you think that ongoing rewards are desirable, then WPN's Elite Benefits and Chico's Comp Points might be the answer.


° If you seek massive tournaments, then you'll encounter plenty of them at Ignition and the Winning Poker Network.

 

Online Poker Payouts

Coins and Dollar Bills

As you accumulate winnings at the tables, the time will come when you're looking to cash some of your money out. You can do so via check from any of the rooms that we work with. At some of them, additional withdrawal processors, like debit cards and money transfer services, may be available. We highly advise you to conduct your poker banking in the digital crypto-currency Bitcoin. All of the sites we recommend support it, and it lets you bypass many of the fees and delays that sometimes come with other payment methods. If you're a Bitcoin beginner, then we've put together a guide to Bitcoin and online poker that you'll probably find informative.

 

Louisiana Online Poker Law

Law Reference Book

Louisiana is known to be strict when it comes to unauthorized gambling for real money, and furthermore, it's one of the few states that has provisions specifically dealing with online gambling. Therefore, you might expect it to be one of the most unfriendly jurisdictions for online poker players in America. However, Louisiana's reputation in this respect has been unjustly earned. When we look closely at the LA statutes in effect against gaming, we see that it's among the most permissive states from the individual player's perspective.

Without further ado, let's jump into the Louisiana laws that might pertain to poker. The main one is Title 14 - Criminal Law - §90 - Gambling. It reads in part:

A.(1)(a) Gambling is the intentional conducting, or directly assisting in the conducting, as a business, of any game, contest, lottery, or contrivance whereby a person risks the loss of anything of value in order to realize a profit.

(b) Whoever commits the crime of gambling shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars, or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both.

The wording used here to describe the prohibited activities, “risks the loss of anything of value in order to realize a profit,” is different from what's found in most states. It seems to be designed to include many types of pastimes, including poker. The key phrasing for our purposes, however, is “as a business.” It's clear that this is meant to penalize people in the gambling industry, not ordinary players. The rest of §90 increases the punishments for higher-ups in illegal gambling operations and exempts those games run in accordance with other sections of the Louisiana code, like pari-mutuel wagering, riverboat casino offerings, and charitable gaming.

Moving on to the portion of the law that addresses online gambling (§90.3), we find a voluminous introduction to the relevant passages that endeavors to explain the legislature's adoption of the law. This preamble runs in excess of 350 words. It's full of the kind of mealy-mouthed, self-serving justifications that we would expect to find. Here are some excerpts for your amusement:

The Legislature…desiring to protect individual rights, while at the same time… promoting the health, safety, education, and welfare of the people, including the children of this state who are our most precious and valuable resource…protecting its citizens and children from…irreparable harm…develop a controlled well-regulated gaming industry…protecting and assisting its citizens who suffer from compulsive or problem gaming…The legislature recognizes and encourages the beneficial effects…use of the Internet resources have had on the children…by expanding their educational horizons. ..responsibility to protect its citizens, and in particular its youngest citizens, from the pervasive nature of gambling… Gambling has long been recognized as a crime…Gambling which occurs via the Internet embodies the very activity that the legislature seeks to prevent...balanced its interest in protecting the citizens of this state with the protection afforded by the First Amendment…

The actual meat of this law states:

B. Gambling by computer is the intentional conducting, or directly assisting in the conducting as a business of any game, contest, lottery, or contrivance whereby a person risks the loss of anything of value in order to realize a profit when accessing the Internet, World Wide Web, or any part thereof by way of any computer, computer system, computer network, computer software, or any server…

D. Whoever commits the crime of gambling by computer shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars, or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both.

We have omitted a list of definitions of commonsense terms, like computer and internet, which we trust our readers are already familiar with. The key takeaway from this law is the same as in the general law against gambling: the use of the words “as a business.” Again, the legislators wish to target those running the games rather than everyday citizens who like to place bets online every now and then. There are worse sanctions in store for those who fulfill specified roles in connection with internet gambling, like making web pages, managing a computer network for a gaming firm, and providing computer services for entities violating the law. ISPs and programmers who conduct their business as usual are exempt from these clauses notwithstanding that their customers, on their own initiative, may be contravening the law.

As is evident from examining the Louisiana rules against gambling and gambling by computer, there's nothing here to concern you if you engage in poker playing through the internet. It's only those managing, backing, owning, or maintaining a financial interest in the games who might get in trouble. It's perfectly legal in Louisiana for you to play online poker to your heart's content.

That said, there are a couple of other measures on the books that could affect you. The first is the prohibition on public gambling, contained in §90.2:

A. Gambling in public is the aiding or abetting or participation in any game, contest, lottery, or contrivance, in any location or place open to the view of the public or the people at large, such as streets, highways, vacant lots, neutral grounds, alleyway, sidewalk, park, beach, parking lot, or condemned structures whereby a person risks the loss of anything of value in order to realize a profit.

B. This Section shall not prohibit activities authorized under the Charitable Raffles, Bingo and Keno Licensing Law,1 nor shall it apply to bona fide fairs and festivals conducted for charitable purposes.

C. Whoever commits the crime of gambling in public shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars, or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both.

Keep your online card games confined to your private computer in your own home, or else you could theoretically run the risk of a fine of up to $500 and/or a sentence of six months' imprisonment. We've never heard of anyone ever being arrested for committing this “crime,” as it relates to online poker, but still, this is a law that's on the books, and so it's better to be safe than sorry. Don't tempt fate by engaging in internet wagering in public.

The other statute that could possibly affect poker players is the vagrancy law, §90.107. It defines several groups of people that could be found guilty of vagrancy and subject to a fine not exceeding $200 and/or jail time of up to six month. One of them is “Habitual gamblers or persons who for the most part maintain themselves by gambling.” This law has come under fire for being extremely vague, and some legal observers feel that it's unconstitutional because it criminalizes economic or social status rather than specific actions. Anyway, we've never heard of anyone ever being prosecuted under the anti-gambler provisions of Louisiana state vagrancy law. The text in question was last amended in 1968, so there's no reason to think that the lawmakers intended to cover online wagering because the internet hadn't been invented yet. Furthermore, there's no way for the authorities to know if you gamble “habitually” or if it's your principal means of supporting yourself.

After examining the legal framework in the Bayou State, we conclude that the officials of Louisiana have no serious intention of going after regular online poker enthusiasts unless they game in public or somehow make a nuisance of themselves. It's a different story for those in the business of accepting bets via the internet.

In September 2006, the chairman of online gambling firm Sportingbet, Peter Dicks, was arrested in New York because of an outstanding warrant against him in Louisiana for charges related to illegal internet gambling. Dicks resigned from his post. However, New York refused to extradite him to Louisiana because the crimes of which he was accused were not contrary to NY law, as explained by Governor George Pataki, and Dicks wasn't accused of breaking any laws from within the borders of Louisiana. Several months later, Sportingbet was able to pay about $400,000 to Louisiana law enforcement and governmental agencies, and the entire matter was quietly dropped. Peter Dicks returned to the company.

What made this case unusual was that the arrest warrant from Louisiana was sealed, and neither Dicks nor any of the other principals at Sportingbet knew about it until he was detained. According to The Guardian, “Louisiana is said to have sealed warrants against more than 50 executives and at least a dozen online firms.” This was more than a decade ago, so it's anybody's guess as to how many of these warrants still remain active, but some gambling entities have opted not to take any unnecessary chances. Thus, there are a few online poker operations that refuse to accept Louisianans as customers. Nevertheless, the majority of them are happy to cater to players from the state. Perhaps they feel as though the Peter Dicks incident was an isolated occurrence, and as long as their key officers refrain from setting foot in the United States, they won't have any legal trouble. In any event, the major gambling enterprises have solicited the counsel of trained attorneys who have undoubtedly advised them that the risks inherent in taking real money action from Louisiana are small.

 

 

History of Gambling in Louisiana

Hourglass

The area now called Louisiana has an extensive gambling history that dates back to prehistoric periods. The Poverty Point Culture, centered around a series of earthworks near present-day Epps, LA, existed from about 2200 BC to 700 BC. They played a native ballgame that's reminiscent of baseball, and there's archaeological evidence to suggest that wagering on the outcomes was commonplace. Later tribes, like the Choctaw, played similar games. The Choctaw also played the corn game, which involved blackening one side of kernels of corn. The players would take turns throwing them and scoring points depending on how many blackened sides turned up.

18th Century Map of New Orleans
Map of New Orleans 1728

The earliest European explorers in Louisiana were Spanish, but the first nation to settle the area in earnest was France. In 1701, the French built Fort St. Jean, which grew into New Orleans. The early population of the city was composed of fortune seekers, prospectors, soldiers, and others wrung from the lowest orders of society. It's no surprise that these men of the world were keen practitioners of real money gaming on card games and billiards. Indeed, one of the early authorities in the city, Edme Salmon, opined that the average resident was a “drunkard and a gambler” who habitually ”spent on Sunday all of the money he had earned during the week.” One of the games they brought with them from across the seas was poque, which involved cards, betting, and bluffing. Poque is considered by most historians to be the direct ancestor of poker.

In 1723, all games of chance involving more than 100 livres in bets were banned. There were further attempts to restrict gambling, but they were widely ignored. Officials had a hard time shutting down illicit wagering parlors because the participants would move the locations of the games often so that their whereabouts could not be predicted. In 1753, Louis Belcourt, Chevalier de Kerlerec was appointed governor of the colony, and he tried a different strategy. He launched a government-run casino to replace illicit facilities for gaming, and it proved successful.

In 1763, Louisiana was traded to Spain, but France reacquired it in a secret treaty in 1800. The Emperor Napoleon sold it to the United States in 1803. Throughout all these changes in administration, gambling remained alive and well. Most residents cared not whether they were ruled from Madrid, Versailles, or Washington; such faraway capitals were remote from the day-to-day affairs of Louisianans. Louisiana became the 18th state in 1812.

Portrait of Bernard de Marigny
Jean-Bernard Xavier Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville,
Wealthy Louisianan Gambler,
1785 - 1868

In 1785, a colorful character was born who would play an instrumental role in Louisiana gambling circles: Jean-Bernard Xavier Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville. His family's wealth and extravagance were legendary; they supposedly commissioned a golden dinner service to be crafted especially for a visit from the heir to the French throne. After the meal, they threw the plates into the Mississippi River on the theory that they were useless because nobody else would be worthy of eating from them after they had been used by so estimable a prince.

Even among such rarified and lavish relations, young Jean-Bernard stood out for his dissipation and spendthrift ways. Hoping to reform him, his guardians sent him on a trip to England during his teenage years, but this backfired as he spent most of his time abroad in gambling houses. De Marigny brought back with him a fondness for the dice game hazard, which he supposedly refined into a game called “crapaud.” This word means “toad” in French, and rumor has it that the game was so christened because those playing it in the street, hunched over to keep low to the ground, resembled the amphibious creatures in their posture. Eventually “crapaud” was shortened to “craps,” the name by which we know it today. In a not unexpected development, Marigny amassed considerable gambling debts, which he discharged in piecemeal fashion by selling parts of his plantation. He named the streets on such plots whimsically, calling one “Craps Street” although it was renamed “Burgundy Street” after three churches located on it complained about the original name, and it retains this latter name to this day.

In the 19th century, the attitude of state leaders vacillated between penalizing gaming and permitting it in strictly regulated environments. In 1808, a municipal ordinance fined the owners of gambling houses and also provided for the seizure of cards, dice, and other paraphernalia. In 1812, the federal government prohibited gambling throughout Louisiana except in New Orleans. About a decade later, the Louisiana legislature permitted and licensed six gaming halls, referred to by the grandiose name “temples of chance.” Also during the early 1800s, poker made its appearance. It's widely believed to have originated in New Orleans, derived from the earlier game of poque. The first versions of the game used only a 20-card deck with all ranks lower than 10 removed. There was no draw; people just received their cards, bet on them, and had a showdown. However, by the 1830s, 52-card poker was introduced, and the draw was added sometime in the 1840s.

In 1827, John Davis opened up a series of restaurants, hotels, and gambling halls in New Orleans. Free accommodations, fine cuisine, and delicious beverages awaited anyone willing to try his luck at faro, 21, poker, brag, and any number of other games. In 1935, though, Louisiana decided to clamp down on vice and halted the licensing of gambling parlors. John Davis had to shut his operations down, but his endeavors became the model for future resort-casinos that aimed to entertain guests even while encouraging them to lose their money at the tables. Notwithstanding the law, other entrepreneurs continued to operate gambling businesses although on a much smaller scale than Davis had.

Riverboat
Typical 19th Century Mississippi Riverboat

By this time, Louisiana had begun to play host to another form of gambling: waterborne river passenger boats. Cardsharps found the open atmosphere of these boats conducive to their profession without their having to worry about moral rules enforced by the busybodies and do-gooders on land. The Mississippi River was the primary means of moving goods and people long distances at affordable rates, and so all kinds of travelers could be found on riverboats along with gamblers to take their money. Unfortunately, many of the games were rigged with the dealers being fully conversant in “stocking” (i.e., stacking) a deck, sand-bagging, teaming up with associates to fleece novices, and other unsavory technique.

Beginning with the Eclipse Track in New Orleans in 1837, horse racing venues started to proliferate. The Metairie Race Course in 1838, Louisiana Race Course in 1839 (co-founded by de Marigny), and Union Racetrack in 1852 all helped to ensure that New Orleans became one of the premier racing hotspots in the United States during the 1850s: a position it continued to hold for several decades thereafter.

In the aftermath of the Civil War, Louisiana leaders were keen to explore methods for raising revenue. Businessman Charles Howard pitched the idea of a lottery, and the Louisiana Lottery Company began its existence at the end of 1868. Unlike most previous lotteries, this one was not confined to a single town or even state. Rather, it sold tickets all across the nation through the mail, and estimates have placed its annual revenues at around $20 million. For the concession of operating the Louisiana Lottery, the company paid trivial recompense: a mere $40,000 per year.

The management of the firm engaged in shady practices, like putting unsold ticket numbers into the drawing barrels basically allowing the company to sometimes win its own prizes. It was active in politics, making “contributions” to legislators to ensure its continued existence. There were allegations of theft of funds as well. The other states disapproved of the Louisiana Lottery's willingness to offer tickets through the mail because it meant that money was flowing away from their citizens and into the coffers of the company.

A federal decision in 1892 to prohibit lottery tickets to be distributed via the U.S. Postal Service spelled the death knell for the Louisiana Lottery. Its underhanded shenanigans caused many around the country to hold unfavorable views on lotteries in general, and there were no legal lotteries in the United States from the time it ended until 1935 when Puerto Rico instituted a modern lottery.

Louisiana Lottery Ticket - 19th CenturyLouisiana Lottery Ticket from 1889

By the beginning of the 20th century, all forms of gambling had been outlawed throughout Louisiana except betting on horse races. However, in 1908, this sole form of legalized betting was prohibited too. In 1926, state leaders changed their mind and permitted pari-mutuel race betting. Much as during the preceding centuries, the law was enforced sporadically, and so underground betting facilities closed or remained open depending upon whatever arrangements their owners could make with those in charge.

The regulated gambling front remained quiet in Louisiana up until the 1990s although charitable gaming was authorized from 1968. A lottery amendment passed a voter referendum in 1990, and after close to a 100-year hiatus, the lottery returned to the Pelican State. In 1991, the legislature permitted up to 15 riverboats to supply gaming services to the public.

The same year, video poker terminals were legalized for placement in bars and lounges, restaurants, hotels, racetracks, and truck stops. 1992 saw the state sign its first round of gaming compacts with tribal leaders, allowing Indian gaming establishments to open their doors. In 1996, individual parishes were able to hold elections to decide whether or not to opt out of hosting video poker within their jurisdictions, and 33 chose to do so. There nevertheless remain more than 10,000 of these devices in use within the parishes that allow them.

1997 saw racetracks given permission to install slot machines, turning them into “racinos” although they're still not able to offer casino table games or poker. Louisiana's sole land-based casino, Harrah's New Orleans, began offering gambling in 1999.

A 2018 ballot measure put the question of fantasy sports to the voters. 47 of the 67 Louisiana parishes decided to allow daily fantasy sports contests. Residents of these parishes will be able to play DFS legally although the exact framework for the industry in the state has yet to be fleshed out.

Gambling Timeline of Louisiana

Louisiana Gambling Timeline

Chances for Regulation of Online Poker

Document Pages

As one of the few states in the U.S.A. that has laws that positively criminalize operating an online gambling enterprise within the state's borders, Louisiana seems like an unlikely candidate for licensing internet poker. Yet, there are a few reasons to believe that the political climate isn't totally opposed to the idea. First of all, there are myriad offline betting services available to residents of the Sugar State, so the electorate is already accustomed to gambling in general.

In 2013, State Representative Mike Huval pushed for a study to be done on this topic, and the relevant bodies presented a briefing on online gambling to the legislature in 2014. In 2016, Bobby Jindal, a longtime conservative foe of gambling interests, concluded his second term as governor, paving the way for a more moderate governor to take office. In recent years, neighboring states have been successful in capturing gambling market share, hurting Louisiana's casino's bottom line. All of these developments make it possible that we'll see LA online gaming licensing pursued in the coming years although there's nothing yet on the table. We foresee legalized internet poker eventually coming to the Pelican State, but when it will happen is anybody's guess.

 

Land Based Gambling

Harrahs Casino New Orleans Logo

Louisiana is home to all types of gambling including charitable gaming, a state lottery, tribal and non-tribal casinos, and pari-mutuel betting. Pari-mutuel wagering is confined to horses because dog racing is illegal, but there are offtrack facilities available to put money down without having to go to the races in person. The charitable gambling scene is especially robust with keno, bingo, raffles, pull-tabs, and casino nights allowed to qualifying organizations. The commercial casinos are divided into three kinds: riverboats, which are allowed to be permanently docked, racinos that provide pari-mutuel and slot-machine gaming, and a single land-based casino. This vast selection of gambling options puts Louisiana in a surprisingly strong position for individuals looking to place wagers at brick and mortar locations. The largest collection of casinos is in and around the New Orleans area but are not limited to just this section of the state.

None of the cardrooms is especially large, but there are a dozen of them dotted around the state. Pokerists in the Big Easy will probably find Harrah's New Orleans and its 20 poker tables to their liking as a number of WSOP events are held there each year. Coushatta Casino, L'Auberge du Lac Resort, and the Golden Nugget are in the Lake Charles area and each of these similarly sized destinations for live poker run low-stakes to mid stakes NL Hold'em, Limit Hold'em, and pot-limit Omaha cash games around the clock as well as having several small-buyin tournaments per week.

L'Auberge du Lac was once a frequent destination for poker great Sam Farha who would play in the high stakes pot limit omaha games with blinds of up to $100/$200. That is of course until the game broke up due to the FBI arrest and seizure of 5.7 million in property from a local whale / alleged bookie.

Other hot spots for land based gambling can be found in Shreveport and Baton Rouge, which have casino-resorts and/or riverboat gambling establishments. They offer every conceivable table game known to man, including live poker games.

Famous Louisiana Poker Players

Shooting Star

For a state with a rich gambling history and that was arguably the birthplace of poker, Louisiana has produced very few prominent players. This may have been because most of the sharks who sat at the green felt in New Orleans gambling dens were from elsewhere and just passing through. Perhaps the most well-known Louisianan to make a fortune at poker was the flamboyant riverboat sharper Jimmy Fitzgerald. His boots, undergarments, and other accessories were imported from Paris, and his wardrobe required three men to carry it aboard the steamers. The most notable aspect of his dress was the 16-foot gold watch chain that he wore. Jimmy was addicted to the faro tables when he went ashore, and it has been said that he lost just as many fortunes on land as he won on the boats.

In more recent years, Kevin Eyster has been making a name for himself. Originally from Denver, Colorado, he moved to Lafayette, Louisiana, in 2009. First honing his craft online under the screenname, “1$ickDisea$E,” Kevin transitioned to the live tournament circuit where he has amassed more than $4 million in winnings. With 29 WSOP cashes to his credit, including a bracelet in the $5,000 NL Hold'em 6-max event at the 2014 series, Eyster is the winningest Louisiana live tournament poker player of all time.

 

Final Words

There are no laws holding you back from playing online poker in Louisiana. This form of competition is convenient, entertaining, and possibly profitable depending on your own level of skill. Find a good Louisiana online poker home from the options we've presented, and begin your internet poker journey today.

 

 

Do you have an address in a nearby state?

Louisiana and Nearby States

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 Louisiana and Professional Rakeback's review on each of them:  Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas.    

Perhaps you are the more adventurous type and have decided that your secondary property is far removed from the sweltering and sticky sub-tropical Louisiana summers.  Fear not, you aren't out of luck.  We have an article that provides information on all 50 states and their real money online poker sites options.

 


If you have found this information helpful to you, please consider sharing it with your friends and family.  Unfortunately, many people are ignorant of their ability to still play poker on the Internet.  Let us grow our favorite pastime together by disseminating knowledge!

 

Frequently Asked Questions

We've listened to the common questions raised by our readers and have therefore put together a FAQ addressing some of them. You can turn here for solid information about issues related to online poker in Louisiana.

Are There State-regulated Online Poker Sites in Louisiana?

No, despite the presence of widespread gambling, including poker, throughout the State of Louisiana, a regulated online poker market has yet to be authorized. The only step the legislature has taken in this direction was the commissioning of a 2014 study into the matter. Even after the results were presented in 2014, no bills have been introduced to establish a licensed internet gambling framework within the state.

Is Online Poker Legal to Play in Louisiana?

Yes, you can enjoy Louisiana online poker without any risk of legal persecution. There are state laws in effect specifically making online gambling illegal, but the way the texts are laid out, it's only those operating the games that can be prosecuted. As an individual internet poker enthusiast, you have nothing to fear as long as you don't conduct your gameplay in public places because there is a statute criminalizing gambling in public. Actually, we've never heard of anyone being arrested for playing online poker in public, but the law is still on the books. At the federal level, the Wire Act in conjunction with the UIGEA used to be understood as making online poker against the law. However, in 2011, the Department of Justice wrote an opinion stating that the Wire Act only prohibits online sports-betting, not any other type of real money gaming. There's thus nothing proscribing online card games nationwide. In any case, the UIGEA only targeted those involved in hosting virtual games and in processing payments for them, so ordinary players were and are totally in the clear.

Is PokerStars Legal in Louisiana?

Yes, the state police have no interest in penalizing regular players for heading online to PokerStars. However, this doesn't mean what you may think it does. You see, PokerStars has promised to stay out of the U.S. market except in those jurisdictions where there are legal licensure regimes in place for internet poker. Louisiana doesn't fit this criterion, and so the company does not accept players from the Bayou State. This policy was put in place by PokerStars management as part of a deal arranged with the federal authorities in the aftermath of the Black Friday crackdownagainst online poker. PokerStars is in fact excluded from doing business in certain areas that DO have fully legal state-run poker environments. This is because its competitors have been successful in inserting “bad actor” clauses into the relevant legislation. That is, PokerStars cannot compete in these areas because of its previous experience serving the United States from 2007 - 2011. It's a shame that the world's largest poker site is having so much trouble reentering the States, but such are the consequences of the complex and byzantine legal strictures in place.

Is Ignition Casino Poker Legal in Louisiana?

Yes, you can partake in the tables at Ignition Poker without incident. Although the LA government feels that its legal code gives it justification for acting against offshore poker providers, this opinion is particular to law enforcement agencies within the state itself. Other courts, most notably in New York during the Peter Dicks case, believe that the writ of Louisiana law doesn't apply elsewhere. The PaiWangLuo Network, of which Ignition is a member, is based in Hong Kong and follows the laws of that location. Its executives are not impressed by Louisiana's broad interpretation of its own powers and instead subscribe to well-understood international rules that allow goods and services to be traded across national boundaries.

Is BetOnline Legal in Louisiana?

Yes, BetOnline is a legal and safe place to go for online poker in Louisiana. It's headquartered and licensed in Panama, and so whatever rules Louisiana thinks it can make are not relevant to BoL's everyday activities. The World Trade Organization has indeed determined that the United States is not living up to its treaty obligations by making it difficult for foreign gambling firms to do business within its territory. Louisiana's laws were specifically mentioned by the WTO as being problematic from an international legal perspective.

Is Global Poker Legal in Louisiana?

The principals of Global Poker contend that their operations are legal in Louisiana and the other 49 states, but we think they might be fooling themselves (and their customers). For reasons that are too convoluted to get into here, we feel that they may be in violation of federal laws and be breaking the terms of service of their payment processor, PayPal. For a thorough treatment of this subject, head over to our Global Poker review.

What's the Minimum Age for Online Gambling in Louisiana?

Louisiana has imposed minimum ages of 18 for pari-mutuel betting and charitable bingo but 21 for all other forms of gambling. While the topic of underage online gaming hasn't really come up in the legislative arena, and so there are no specific regulations for it, it's very likely that these same guidelines for live gaming transfer over to the online realm. Thus, you probably need to be 21 to participate in internet card games. Most rooms will allow you to register and play if you're between 18 and 21, but we advise you to fully adhere to the minimum age restrictions of the State of Louisiana.

Can I Operate My Own Internet Poker or Gambling Company in Louisiana?

No, there are strict laws against this, and they're actually enforced. In January 2014, authorities arrested the owners of an internet café in Gretna that was suspected of being a front for an online casino. In 2017, a Plaquemine man was arrested for similar offenses allegedly committed from a restaurant he owned.

How Do I Make Deposits and Withdrawals for Online Poker?

There are a number of funding and cashout methods available at leading sites for online poker in Louisiana, including credit cards and money transfers. We believe that the crypto-currency Bitcoin is the best one because it facilitates the speedy movement of money with reasonably low fees. All of the major sites that accept Louisiana players support Bitcoin. Ethereum is another growing crypto-currency that has even lower fees and more rapid transaction timeframes associated with its use than Bitcoin, but there are only a few online poker sites that work with ETH. If you'd like to learn more about how you can use Ethereum to play poker, check out our Ethereum online gambling guide.

What are the Tax Implications for Online Poker Players?

Louisiana considers gambling winnings to be income, and so does the IRS. It's up to you to report your gambling income on the proper forms; otherwise, you might be subject to future fines and financial penalties. None of the Louisiana online poker rooms withhold taxes or send paperwork to the tax collection agencies, so the entire responsibility lies with the individual winners. The tax codes are notoriously difficult to understand, and if you derive a sizeable fraction of your income from poker, we recommend that you consult a professional CPA for additional assistance and information.

Are There Mac-Compatible Online Poker Rooms?

Windows is the most common platform for playing online poker, but there are quite a few poker rooms that are compatible with Macs too. Ignition, Sportsbetting.ag, and 5Dimes all work with this popular line of Apple computers. Even at sites that don't deploy dedicated Mac poker clients, you may have success in running the standard Windows client on your Mac via emulation software.

Can I Play Poker From My Mobile Device?

Mobile poker apps give you the freedom to log in not just while you're at home but also when you're traveling or at work. Ignition, Sportsbetting.ag, and Americas Cardroom are a few of the sites that cater to mobile gamers. Be warned, however, that at some poker rooms, your choice of games is more restrictive on mobile platforms than on desktop systems.

What Is Louisiana Lo-Flop?

Louisiana Lo-Flop is a poker variant that, unlike its name might imply, features neither a flop nor lowball play. The way it works is that each player antes and then is dealt two cards facedown. Each player may look at only one of their cards. Higher cards are better. There's a round of betting, then every participant gets the opportunity to switch the card they are playing from the one they have seen to the other unknown card. If they do so, they pick up the second card, and the original card no longer plays. After a second round of betting, showdown takes place, and the highest card wins the pot. In case of ties, suits come into play with the following ranking: spades (highest), hearts, diamonds, clubs (lowest).

 

Additional Resources

Louisiana's residents have certainly been known to gamble on occasion, and you can find out more about this pastime below:

 


We strive to maintain this information and update it frequently with our research. However, we are not immune to making mistakes or omitting information that you, dear reader, may find of use. If you have any further questions not addressed in this guide or have noted any discrepancies or inaccuracies we urge you to contact us with your questions and concerns so that we may swiftly address them!