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Online Poker Maryland - Play to Your Heart's Content @ These MD Sites

Internet Poker in Maryland

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 and the Wire Act have been determined to not apply to poker at all although there has recently been some disagreement on this point. If you would like to know more about the varying opinions on this point, we have prepared a page about legal online poker for your enlightenment.

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 five reputable places that provide poker services to the state that we were able to identify after considerable research. Those four are Sportsbetting.ag,Nitrogen Poker, BetOnline, 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!

Sportsbetting.ag Logo

SB POKER
Highest Traffic


Of all the poker sites that are available in Maryland, SB Poker has the biggest player liquidity. You'll almost certainly find a game running, starting at $0.05/$0.10 and going all the way up to $10/$20 in NL Hold'em, PLO, and PLO/8. The exciting variant 6+ Hold'em is also supported. As far as tournaments, you can compete for $60,000 every Sunday in the Main Event along with dozens of smaller contests every day. Sit-n-gos run fairly often, up to $200 buyins, and Windfall lottery-style games are offered too.

You can access SB.ag from almost every computing device: desktop, laptop, and mobile. Get your 100% up to $1,000 poker bonus today, and then pick up extra money going forward with reloads, comp points, and weekly missions.

Logo of BOL

BETONLINE
All-in-One Gambling


BetOnline is a partner site with Sportsbetting Poker, and so the card games and players you'll see are shared between them both. You'll encounter the same lottery-style Windfall SNGs, Boost fast-fold poker, normal NLHE, PLO, and PLO/8 cash games, and tournaments that you would expect. As its name implies, BetOnline is a fine destination if you wish to bet on anything else too. Casino games, including Live Dealer options, a fully featured sportsbook with eSports covered, a racebook, and a sports contests section beckon.

BetOnline has software options for Windows, Mac OS, Android, and iOS, and there's a web-based version that works on almost any hardware. Sign up today for a 100% up to $1,000 bonus for poker as well as additional incentives for the other betting products.

Nitrogen Sports Poker Logo

NITROGEN
Valuable Rewards


Nitrogen Poker is perfect if you seek a place to play Texas Hold'em, PL Omaha, and/or Six Plus Hold'em ring games using Bitcoin. Freerolls abound along with a variety of other guaranteed tournaments. Through the Nitro Rewards program, you'll be rewarded handsomely especially if you can put in significant volume. It's possible to get back well over 50% of the rake you pay in the form of sports free bets.

Because the software runs in a web browser, Nitrogen works on virtually every system, and there's nothing to download or install. Nitrogen doesn't provide any bonuses to new players.

SwC Logo

SwCPOKER
Mixed/Other Games


As opposed to most sites, which only focus on three or four types of poker, BTC-only SwCPoker lets you sample dozens of varieties. NLHE, PLO, and PLO Hi-Lo are present, to be sure, but so are Open Face Chinese, Stud games, draw poker, and mixed games in cash and tournament formats. Traffic has picked up with the release of the 3.0 software, but you might have to wait awhile for your game to start especially for the more niche variants.

SwCPoker is compatible with Windows PCs, Macs, iOS systems, and Android devices. SwC doesn't provide a welcome bonus, but you'll get rakeback through the Krill rewards program, and the percentage will get higher the more you play.

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 SB Poker or BetOnline is where you should be.


+ If big guaranteed tournament prize pools get your heart pumping, then Sportsbetting or BoL is the room for 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 you're in search of a great initial deposit bonus, then SB Poker's or BetOnline's 100% up to $1,000 deal should satisfy you.


+ 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. Sportsbetting.ag., 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. We've written a guide to using Bitcoin for online poker and gaming, so if you lack knowledge about crypto currencies, this problem can be remedied right away.

Nevertheless, legacy payment methods, like checks and money transfers, are available. 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

Historically, Maryland's gambling laws have been very broad and tough: evidence that the Maryland authorities had a very dim opinion of gambling in general. However, in 2019, the legislature passed Senate Bill 842, which removed some of the harsher language and penalty provisions.

Since the arrival of legal casinos within the state in 2004, it probably didn't make sense to retain the old, stricter laws while licensed organizations are permitted to host gaming with the full approval of the state. This may be why the gambling laws were softened.

Let's take a look at the statutes that might apply to playing online poker. The key law that we're concerned about is part of the Maryland Code, Title 12 §12-103:

(a) For money or any other thing or consideration of value, a person may not:
    (1) bet, wager, or gamble; or
    (2) play any other gaming device or fraudulent trick.

In the definitions for this section of law (MD Crim Law Code §12-101), 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.

Now let's look at the enforcement and penalties contained in § 12-103 that are attached to breaking this law:

(b) (1) A violation of this section is a civil offense punishable by a fine not exceeding:
     (i) $500, if the violation involves money or any other thing or consideration of value not exceeding $100; or
     (ii) $1,000, if the violation involves money or any other thing or consideration of value that exceeds $100.
  
(2) Adjudication of a violation under this section:
     (i) is not a criminal conviction for any purpose; and
     (ii) does not impose any of the civil disabilities that may result from a criminal conviction.

We can clearly see that the only punishment involved in violating this statute is a fine. What's more, a conviction doesn't count as a crime. It's basically the same as a traffic ticket or some other minor infraction albeit with a higher fine than is typical.

More good news – 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, which is a serious matter but is not the point of our discussion today.

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 losses 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 superseded 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 2012, daily fantasy sports was legalized. Then in 2016, the legislature removed most of the remaining prohibitions on home poker games.

Gambling Timeline of Maryland

Maryland Gaming Timeline

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 major casinos that have proven to be very popular, especially among poker players, it’s a little easier to see internet gaming legislation happening as well because it would be another revenue stream for the Maryland government. Neighbors like Delaware, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia already have laws enabling state-licensed interactive poker, and New Jersey's online gambling market is not too far away either.

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. Furthermore, the regulation of daily fantasy sports in 2012 and the liberalization of the state's general anti-gambling laws in 2019 gives us hope that lawmakers will not be opposed to an expansion into online poker in the near future.

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 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 cooperation 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 in terms of its age. That is quickly changing though as Maryland Live! Is becoming more of a well-known and respected 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. MGM National Harbor opened up in 2016, and it also has a bustling card room.

As the casino industry 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 the existing casino owners have an interest in regulating internet gambling, but it is easy to see why they would be the most obvious candidates to move it along if it were to happen.

Famous Maryland Poker Players

Shooting Star

For a middling state without much to distinguish itself in the world of real money gaming, Maryland sure has produced an interesting crop of professional poker players. Standing atop the list of live poker earnings for individuals from Maryland is Anthony Gregg with close to $12 million in winnings accumulated.

Contributing to his outstanding results were a victory in the $111,111 One Drop High Roller at the 2013 World Series of Poker, for which he received $4,830,000 after outlasting the likes of high-roller Bill Perkins and Antonio Esfandiari. He has also made three final tables at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure although he failed to claim first place in any of them.

Greg Merson 2012 WSOP Main Event Champ Greg Merson

The only other Marylander even close to Gregg in terms of offline tourney cashes is Greg Merson with $11.4 million. However, Laurel resident Merson accomplished something that has eluded Anthony Gregg: a WSOP Main Event bracelet.

Merson's big day came in the 2012 WSOP where he bested a field of 6,598 to collect the top prize of $8,531,853. Interestingly, he also won another bracelet that same year, and his overall performance was good enough to make him the 2012 WSOP Player of the Year.

Ironically, Merson doesn't really consider himself much of a tournament player. He prefers playing over the internet and has estimated that he has logged more than 7 million hands online.

Phil Galfond High-Stakes PLO Master Phil Galfond

Speaking of online legends, who could forget Phil “OMGClayAiken” Galfond? He hails from North Potomac and became known for crushing online high-stakes NLHE and PLO cash games during the old Full Tilt days pre-Black Friday. He scooped up more than $8 million in profits at these tables.

In addition to his online results, Phil's no slouch at live poker either. He has won three WSOP bracelets and amassed close to $3 million in tournament winnings.

Later on in his career, Phil opened a training site called RunItOnce in December 2012. His next venture was an online poker site, also named RunItOnce, which opened up for real money play in February 2019. In November 2019, Phil Galfond made waves by issuing a high-stakes challenge seeking opponents for PLO matches.

Besides these prominent individuals, other Marylanders who have made their mark on poker include Steven Dannenmann, who was born in Baltimore and finished second in the 2005 WSOP Main Event, and Christian Harder of Annapolis: a very successful online and live tournament pro.

Online Casinos

There's no legalized internet casino market in Maryland, and in fact, many operators are deterred from accepting Marylanders because of the dim view that state officials take of offshore gaming. Nevertheless, there are a few reputable sites that are willing to do business within the state:

Wild Casino Logo
1. Wild Casino - $1,000 Welcome Bonus ($3,000 with BTC)
Logo of Sportsbetting.ag Casino
2. Sportsbetting Casino - $3,000 Bonuses + $25 Live Dealer FreeBet

To learn more about U.S.-friendly online casinos, consult our page describing the best casinos online for USA residents.

Online Sportsbooks

Although legislation has been filed to allow fully-legal sportsbooks to operate in The Old Line State, we're not quite there yet. Still, it's possible to head online and wager on sports at the international bookmaker of your choice. We've examined them all to present you with a shortlist of trustworthy internet sportsbooks:

Sportsbetting Logo
1. Sportsbetting.ag - 50% up to $1,000 Bonus and Infinite 25% Reloads
Nitrogen Sports Transparent Logo
2. Nitrogen Sports - Bitcoin Bookmaker

For additional info, check out our page on the leading USA-friendly online bookies.

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.

Many of your friends and family don't know they have options.  Please consider sharing this information with them and helping to regrow the poker community.

Frequently Asked Questions

If there are still questions you have about online poker in Maryland, then look below for the answers. We've carefully considered the most common queries on this topic so that we can answer our visitors' concerns.

No, none of the Maryland internet poker sites possess licensure from the state. This is because there have not been any laws passed setting up regulation for the MD online poker industry.

Thus, all operators that transact within Maryland must conduct their affairs without the explicit approval of officials in Annapolis. They're based offshore, beyond the reach of domestic law enforcement.

No, no legislators have seriously proposed the idea of licensed online poker in Maryland. The closest the state came was in 2012 when Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch put the topic on a preliminary legislative agenda, but this item was removed before the session began.

As of March 2020, the only states in the Union that have approved of internet poker sites housed within their borders are: New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

Yes, to all intents and purposes, it's legal to play online poker in Maryland. The state's statutes against gambling haven't ever been used to target individual internet poker players. Their focus is instead on those actually running the games especially if they're located inside the state.

Well, yes, there's nothing really stopping PokerStars from legally doing business in the State of Maryland. However, the company voluntarily agreed to abandon the American market except for states where internet poker has been specifically legalized by the authorities, and Maryland is not on this list. Currently, the only states in which PokerStars is active are New Jersey and Pennsylvania, so you cannot play at 'Stars from Maryland.

Yes, Ignition is probably OK from a legal standpoint in Maryland, but it doesn't let people in the state play. Though the strict state laws against online poker operations could likely never be effectively employed against it, Ignition has opted to take a cautious approach and avoid doing business in Maryland.

Yes, BetOnline manages its business in accordance with well-understood international trade rules whereby it can accept customers internationally. The attempts of the U.S. government to thwart this legal trade have already been found to be in violation of its treaty obligations.

Global Poker maintains that it's a fully legal poker site; however, we have our doubts. The arguments, both pro and con, are a bit involved, so we can't really get into them here. You may wish to check out our review of Global Poker if you seek further guidance on this topic.

In Maryland, there's a dual system of gambling ages set up. To play in a physical casino, you must be 21 or older. However, the lottery and pari-mutuel wagering are permitted to those as young as 18.

Online, most sites use 18 as the dividing line. You ought not to try to play real money games over the internet if you're under 18 because the websites won't let you sign up. If you endeavor to circumvent these restrictions, whether through falsifying your personal details or borrowing the account of someone else, you could be subject to having your money confiscated should your deception be uncovered.

No, it's not a good idea to open up your own gambling enterprise in Maryland. There's an exception for properly licensed casinos and racetracks, but if you're wondering about this question, then you probably don't have the means (or the experience) to set up a functional, legal gaming facility.

Should you ignore this advice, then you could be subjecting yourself to serious criminal penalties. Just look at what happened to 11 illegal cyber cafes that were raided in Baltimore because they were hosting illicit gambling activities.

It used to be pretty challenging for internet poker rooms to accept money from customers and pay out their winnings. Fortunately, innovative fintech developments mean that this is no longer the case.

All of the sites that we recommend above allow you to use Bitcoin to fund your account, and they will willingly pay out your winnings via this same crypto-currency. Bitcoin bypasses cumbersome banking regulations and governmental interference to facilitate speedy transactions with low fees.

A growing number of gaming operators now accept other crypto coins as well, like Bitcoin Cash and Ethereum. Yet, Bitcoin, as the originator of the entire field, is the most commonly used and supported crypto-currency for online gaming.

Both the Internal Revenue Service and the Comptroller of Maryland expect to receive their cut of whatever personal income you make, and poker winnings are no exception. Actually, as a Maryland resident, you may also owe a few percent of your income to your local county.

Giving complex tax advice is beyond our abilities and the scope of this page. If you would like to learn more about your tax obligations related to poker or other gambling income, then we advise you to consult with a qualified tax lawyer or tax preparation specialist.

Yes, you can play interactive poker on your Mac. In fact, all of the sites we've highlighted as the best available in Maryland support Macs.

Yes, most poker sites let you play from your phone or tablet. Whichever of the five rooms that we have described on this page you end up joining, you'll be able to enter the poker client on your Android or iOS device. In some cases, even a less common system, like BlackBerry and Windows Phone, may work fine too.

Baltimore poker is a variant that is more popularly called Low Chicago. It's a version of 7 Card Stud.

Instead of awarding the pot to the high hand, as in traditional stud, or splitting it between the high and best qualifying low, as in Stud/8, this game follows a different allocation for the low half of the pot. It goes to the person at showdown with the lowest spade in the hole (cannot have been dealt face-up).

Additional Resources

Maryland gambling has expanded a bit in recent years, and you can find out more with these links:


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!