It is not yet legal to play online poker in Indiana, but that doesn’t mean that the state is a stranger to the game itself.
Throughout the 1920s and ’30s, and even through the 1950s, there was always a nod and a wink about illicit gambling in Indiana. Al Capone often fled Chicago for Indiana and the games that he could play there. It was a prohibition-era hideaway, and a place one could always find a card game and another player ready to lose his money.
Eventually, there was a crackdown, and the games dried up for about 35 years.
But then the mood changed. Retail casinos opened, gambling became acceptable and live poker rooms opened throughout the state. Online poker rooms are still to come, but it is only a matter of time before they do. In this article we explore what that might look like, and how online poker would work in the state.
In many states, the lack of specifics regarding the illegality of online poker is seen as a loophole that makes online poker legal. There are some Indiana online poker players who believe the same thing. Such people claim that poker is a game of skill, rather than one of chance. They therefore argue that online poker falls outside the scope of what has been ruled illegal.
Those people are wrong. Indiana law very clearly states:
games like poker and euchre are considered gambling if played for money.Indiana State Law
Clearly, the state considers online poker to be gambling. And because online poker has not yet been legalized, players need to beware. Engaging in illegal online gambling can result in a $1,000 fine and up to 180 days in jail.
The traditional offline game of poker is legal in Indiana. But only when it is played at a retail casino that is licensed and regulated. This has been the case since the 1990's.
There has been a long history of gambling in Indiana. The state also made a recent move to make online sports betting legal. It is therefore only a matter of time before online poker rooms and online casinos join the party. When that happens, Indiana poker players will be ready.
As with Indiana online casinos and Indiana online sportsbooks, the minimum age for online poker is likely to be 21. You must currently be at least 21 or older to play at Indiana retail poker rooms. This also what any new legislation regarding online poker is likely to say.
When playing real-money games, all customers will have to be within Indiana state lines. This will be confirmed through a computer's IP address or the geolocation data of a mobile device.
Just as with other forms of gambling in the state, all customers will probably have to report winnings to the IRS. The state tax rate on gambling profits is 24%.
When sports betting was legalized, a 9.5% tax on revenue was levied on all sports betting operators. Online poker operators are sure to face a similar tax that will also be used to fund voter-friendly state projects.
There are currently no real-money Indiana online poker sites in operation. This is due to the fact that online poker in Indiana is not yet legal. However, there are plenty of live poker rooms operating legally in the state at retail casinos. We therefore expect Indiana online poker to become legal at some point in the future. When that happens, operators will be quick to launch online poker games.
We can only speculate, but the following operators are expected to drive the first wave of Indiana online poker rooms.
PokerStars is the biggest online poker provider anywhere in the world, and its sportsbook partner FOX Bet is looking to enter Indiana in the near future. The parent company of PokerStars is the Stars Group, and works in partnership with FOX Bet in many states across the country.
Once it establishes a foothold in the state with a sportsbook, expect PokerStars to be at the front of the line for the online poker market.
This is another online poker room with a foot in the door in Indiana. It is affiliated with BetMGM - the online sportsbook operating in the state under the license held by Belterra Casino in Florence.
PartyPoker is one of the many brands under GVC Holdings, along with BetMGM, which puts its parent company in Indiana. Considering the aggressive way GVC has entered other markets when they become available, they are sure to offer PartyPoker in Indiana once legal.
Caesars has multiple casino holdings in Indiana and a large sportsbook presence in the state. That makes their World Series of Poker brand a likely future online poker room when it is legalized. Caesars Southern Indiana has a 16-table poker room that features Texas Hold 'em, Omaha, Seven Card Stud, and several draw games. It's easy to envision them creating an online poker room when it becomes legal.
Sweepstakes poker sites like Global Poker are technically not real-money poker sites, so they can legally operate in 49 states, including Indiana.
Global Poker plays like any other online poker room. It offers cash games, tournaments and sit and go's, and players across the country compete against one another. However, games are not played with real money, and that makes it legal.
Instead of cash, you play with virtual gold coins. And when you purchase gold coins to play with, you get sweeps coins. And that is where the intrigue comes because you can then turn in your sweeps coins for actual cash prizes.
Because Global Poker wants to remain legal, they also offer several free options to play.
Indiana online poker is likely to be enjoyed by anyone who like to play the game offline. The essentials of the game - the bets, the blinds, the flops and the risk - are exactly the same in both formats.
The hands are also the same. A flush beats a straight but loses to a full house, which in turn loses to four of a kind. And so on.
That said, there are also some differences between land-based and online poker, so let's take a look at those.
The biggest difference, and one you'll notice right away, is just how much faster the play is online. In a live game, people socialize. Time is spent sizing up your opponents. All of the physical acts of thinking, and then betting, take time.
However, when you're playing online, the action is far more immediate. And the number of tables that can be played at the same time online also accelerates the pace.
When adjusting to this change in the pace of play, there are some things you should watch out for.
Online poker players who go to a land-base poker room may become quite bored. The more bored you become in a game of poker, the les focused you become. And less focus means fewer wins.
Anyone making this transition should there remain focused on the players, the tells, the cards and the chips. Focusing on every detail of a poker game becomes especially important.
On the flip side, when you're going from land-based poker rooms to online poker, the faster pace can be hard to keep up with. Tracking player bets and tendencies becomes harder.
You must make assess the situation and make your moves in far less time than you would when playing offline. Everything progresses at a quicker pace in the online game. For that reason, if you've never played online poker before, your should definitely spend some time practicing faster hands to get your instincts used to it.
No matter how large an offline poker room is, or the number of tables it has, it can never give you as much variety as online poker.
In person, you may be forced to play a game that isn't your favorite. Online, you are almost sure to find a game to your liking. You'll also have a much wider range of tournament buy-ins, making the game more accessible to players of all skills.
Another difference to consider is convenience. Your nearest land-based poker room may be hours away, or worse yet, closed. The nearest online poker room, on the other hand, is right in your home. And it will always be open, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Even better, online poker gives you full access to your home's amenities as you play. We're talking about your refrigerator and the ability to arrange a visit from a pizza delivery guy. All of which makes a long night of online poker that much more attractive.
You don't get the same excitement with online poker that you do when sitting right across the table from your opponent, but the convenience is hard to beat.
Unless you're playing a high-stakes game at a top casino, online poker is usually far more competitive than the land-based game. This is largely due to the additional resources that are available to online players. Strategy guides, odds tables and a host of other tools can help online poker players make informed decisions with ease.
When sitting at a table in a land-base venue, players have to calculate the odds in their heads. There is no chart to refer to or other tool to help you out. Additionally, when you visit casino poker rooms you'll find more players who only play the game when they are physically inside a casino. When you play online, on the other hand, you'll encounter plenty of opponents who play poker every day of the week.
It's hard to know exactly what a future Indiana online poker room will offer. However, we can make some assumptions based on the games that can be found at land-base Indiana poker rooms.
The world's most popular poker game is Texas Hold'em. Here players use two hole cards and five community cards to make the best five-card hand. If you play poker, you play Hold 'Em.
In this version of Hold 'Em, all bets and raises must happen in increments between the spreads of two amounts, such as $2 to $5.
Also extremely popular with regular poker players, Omaha gives the player four of their own cards (instead of just two) to make the best hand. Only two of the four can be used when creating that hand.
In Five-Card Omaha, also called Big O, you have five hole cards, but can still only use two of them to make your best hand.
Five-Card Omaha High-Low is played exactly like five-card Omaha, but with a split pot between the high and low hands.
Not as popular as it once was, Seven-Card Stud still has plenty of devotees, because nothing plays like stud. There are no community cards - just the cards in your hand, and six rounds of betting.
There will be a variety of limits available whe online poker is finally allowed, so you will easily be able to find a game that best fits your budget. In line with casino poker rooms and online poker rooms in other parts of the country, Indiana online poker is also likely to offer a variety of promotions.
Taking a look at the weekly live poker tournament schedule in Indiana, we can see that tournaments begin as early as 11am and as late as midnight. They also have buy-ins that range from $20 for 2,000 chips up to $200 for 20,000 chips.
A similarly packed tournament schedule would be expected online. We would also expect regional and seasonal tournaments to be offered, as well as special day-of-the-week tournaments.
When it comes to the types of tournaments that you are likely to find when Indiana online poker rooms become legal, both Sit and Go Tournaments and Spin and Go Tournaments are front-runners.
Sit and Go tournaments begin as soon as enough players sit down and pay their buy-in. Spin and Go tournaments feature a smaller table of players - as low as three - and a spin for prizes and jackpots.
Like online casinos and sportsbooks, online poker rooms are always willing to offer free money in order to attract business. The bonuses are likely to be made available by Indiana online poker rooms are as follows.
It probably won't be for a large amount, and it most likely will be paid out in free buy-ins or tournament entries, but often you'll get a welcome bonus just for signing up. You can't withdraw this bonus as cash, but it's still free and would definitely be worth claiming.
Deposit bonuses typically match a percentage of the first deposit that you make as a player. They are usually much larger than the bonuses awarded just for signing up. Since these bonuses are directly related to how much you deposit into your account when you first sign up, make sure that you understand the details before you proceed.
These bonuses will put more money into your account from the start, but there will also be a playthrough requirement. This means that you must wager the amount of the bonus a set number of times before it converts into cash.
As an example, your deposit matching bonus is $200 and comes with a playthrough requirement of five times. That means that after you spend $1,000 on buy-ins and wagers, the bonus $200 is yours as cash.
Many of the potential operators of online poker rooms already have well established loyalty programs. PokerStars, for example, has a Stars Rewards program. This awards points for every dollar spent, and those points can then be redeemed for a variety of prize chests.
If you play poker at Caesars Southern Indiana, you'll have access to Caesars Rewards. This is a loyalty program that gives out free plays and discounted stays at more than 40 properties around the world. There is a good chance that a rewards program like this will also be available to online poker customers of Caesars.
Middle of the week discounted tournament buy-ins could be something else to look for. They are a great way for online operators to open up certain tournaments to players who are otherwise limited by smaller bankrolls.
You may also notice that along with the new registration bonuses and new customer deposit matches, online poker rooms will occasionally offer existing customers a bonus matche when they reload their accounts. Always keep an eye open for those when the chance arises.
When Indiana online poker is legalized, it will likely allow you to play both on your computer and on your mobile device. Regardless of how you prefer to play, signing up will be as user friendly as possible.
Indiana state law requires the following information to be submitted for registration with online sportsbooks. It is highly probably that online poker rooms will require exactly the same:
Typically a person's identity can be confirmed by this information. If there are any issues in completing that verification, you may be required to submit a recent utility bill that shows your name and address.
At the end of registration for your new account, you will pick a username and password . You will then be asked to follow through with a couple of security steps. Once that is all finished, you will be ready to make your first deposit.
Online poker rooms are only as good as their ability to process deposits and withdrawals. Fortunately, the biggest names have lots of experience in giving their customers a variety of safe and secure options.
Based on their experience with online sports betting, Indiana online poker sites are likely to offer the following deposit options:
The above list is purely speculative, but it's based on what is currently available at legal online sportsbooks in Indiana. Not all online poker providers will have prepaid card options.
An important note on credit card payments: Many companies treat payments to casinos, sportsbooks, and poker rooms as a cash advance. That means you might get tagged for an extra charge when using your credit card. Be sure to check with your credit card provider before making deposits, so you aren't surprised by any extra fees.
It's also worth noting that while PayPal is currently available in Indiana, some operators may use a different e-wallet service.
To assist quick and easy withdrawals, try to make deposits using an electronic transfer of funds. Not only is this method the most secure, but it can also be reversed when you are ready to withdraw funds.
If you can't use an electronic deposit or withdrawal, your other withdrawal options could include:
Obviously, a personal check will take additional time to process, mail and arrive at your home address.
Depending on the affiliation of potential online poker rooms to retail casinos, you may also be able to withdraw funds from your account at the casino cage of the affiliated casino.
No. Indiana online poker has not yet been legalized. However, online sportsbooks are legal in the state, so most industry commentators are optimistic that online poker will be available at some point in the future.
Online poker is currently illegal in Indiana, but poker can be legally played at licensed land-based casinos in the state.
We wish we knew! The legalization of online sportsbooks in the state has definitely made us optimistic about the chances of Indiana online poker also being made legal. As for when that will happen, however, we have no solid predictions.
It’s hard to know exactly how the Indiana online poker market will look when it becomes legal. The rationale behind an inter-state pact is that a small state with a limited number of poker players needs a partner to ensure are their online rooms are busy around the clock.
Indiana is a mid-range state in population terms, but it does have a vibrant market for poker. It’s therefore quite possible that it could remain a fenced-in market.
To be fenced-in means to have online poker for people in Indiana only. This makes it easier to enforce regulations and adhere to single-state tax requirements.
Ultimately the decision will come down to local market size and the legalization efforts of neighboring states.
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