The landscape of online poker has changed drastically since it began in 1998. The introduction of a few key pieces of US poker legislation and the resulting waves of new US poker sites have been the driving forces of change in the industry.
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January 1: Planet Poker deals the first real money hand of online poker in the US.
May 23: Everyman Chris Moneymaker wins WSOP Main Event after qualifying with a $39 online satellite, igniting a poker boom.
Online poker flourishes as a result of the "Moneymaker effect", highlighted by everyman Chris Moneymaker winning the WSOP Main Event and the advent of the hole card camera allowing for the popularization of televised poker.
February 22: Washington State passes a law to ban online poker, making it a Class C felony to play online poker in the state.
October 13: The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) is passed which prohibits the acceptance of online payments for the purpose of offering unlawful bets or wagers over the internet. Market leaders such as Party Poker and 888 Poker leave the US market as a result. Others, such as PokerStars, claim that the law does not apply to online poker and stay.
January 19: The final rule of the UIGEA is implemented, requiring compliance by December 1, 2009, causing processing delays for deposits and withdrawals for the sites that remained.
April 15: Black Friday: The DOJ indicted and seized the domain names of the three largest US-facing poker sites (PokerStars, Full Tilt, AP/UB), effectively shutting down their operations in the US. The Cereus Network (AP/UB) shut down completely. PokerStars immediately pays US player balances and continues operation internationally. Full Tilt is revealed as bankrupt.
June 16: Nevada passes a bill to regulate online poker.
December 23: The DOJ releases an opinion letter stating that the Wire Act only applies to sporting events and contests, not online poker.
June 22: Nevada releases their first "interactive gaming" license. Days later, Delaware passes a bill to regulate online gaming.
July 31: PokerStars reaches an agreement with the DOJ to acquire Full Tilt and pay out their player balances due to Full Tilt being bankrupt and unable to pay. Full Tilt re-launches for international play in November.
August 21: New York federal judge rules that poker is mainly a game of skill in response to a man running a poker club.
February 26: New Jersey passes a bill to regulate online gaming.
April 30: Ultimate Poker deals the first hand of intra-state online poker in Nevada.
September 17: WSOP.com launches its own intra-state online poker site in Nevada.
November 21: Intra-state online poker launches in New Jersey.
Though the major sites have left the US market, there still remain a few sites that accept US players. They are outlined in the table below.
For more information, please refer to Rakeback.com's detailed pages of US poker offerings, including US poker site reviews.
Considering relocating abroad to grind? South East Asia is a popular destination. Check out these interviews with expat grinders living over there:
Unlike e.g. China where gambling is censored online, South East Asia is much more permissive. There are many online online casinos available.
Some players who remained in the US switched to trading bitcoin or forex, as there are many similarities when it comes to poker vs trading.