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Alabama remains as one of the states that will be unlikely to pass online poker in the near future.
But…does that surprise you?
Alabama is apart of the “Bible Belt,” an area that encompasses the southeast region of the United States. By encompass, I mean that political beliefs and a devout sense of religion are a big part of what makes this part of the U.S. so strict on any prospect of online gambling.
People in this area are more religious and conservative than people living elsewhere. They look down on poker, along with most other forms of gambling in general.
But you do have some options, which will be brought up later on this article. Just know that not all of them are above board, as far as the United States government is concerned.
And it doesn’t look like things are going to change anytime soon, either. While Nevada and New Jersey have made several changes in their law to regulate and legalize gambling, it doesn’t look like that will influence Alabama into doing the same.
There’s nothing on the docket to sign into law, at least.
So for now residents will have to make due with what they have.
Are Home Poker Games Legal in Alabama?
I’m going to give you the ‘good’ news upfront.
Home poker games do appear to be okay. There are rules you need to follow, though.
The biggest rule is you cannot accept money from people to play in your home games – like a tournament fee.
And you cannot take rake from a cash game pot.
Other than that you just need to make sure everyone is of legal age – 18 years old.
In that case your game would fall under Alabama’s ‘social gambling’ statute.
“A person commits the crime of simple gambling if he knowingly advances or profits from unlawful gambling activity as a player.” Clause (b) of this section excludes social gambling in a private place.”
Failing to comply, though, and you would be charged with a ‘simple gambling’ crime and charged with a Class C misdemeanor.
Can You Play Online Poker in Alabama?
Alabama doesn’t have any laws that speak specifically to online poker. But the message should be pretty clear to everyone – “Online poker is illegal.”
And if you read the statute in the last section you’ll see why I say this. You’re a player. You’re knowingly and unlawfully gambling.
You’re a bad person.
I’m kidding – but the state’s stance of gambling, and subsequently online gambling looks clear-cut.
And to further drive the point home – poker is considered a game of luck in Alabama. This was established for sure during the case, Garret v. State in 2007.
Now, you can still play online.
You can join offshore poker sites. But know that they’re operating in the state (and the country) illegally. They’re processing your funds illegally.
So the whole shebang is illegal.
It’s up to you to determine if you’re okay with that sort of thing.
The good news is we haven’t heard of anyone that’s been arrested for internet poker, in Alabama or anywhere else.
At the end of the day it’s your call.
Do The Casinos in This State Offer Live Poker?
Unfortunately, live poker is illegal, too. Unfortunately, you can’t win for losing.
In fact, despite there being a handful of Indian casinos, you can’t play most table games. That includes poker, blackjack, baccarat and so on.
So, what can you do?
The best you’re going to get in Alabama are things like slot machines, bingo machines and dog races.
Because even though the state has allowed Indian tribes to operate casinos (because they’ve had to), the state has established boundaries as to what these casinos can and cannot offer.
So your best bet is to play online (illegally) or heard to a nearby state. Mississippi is a good choice, or Louisiana, if you’re willing to make the trip.
Or you can just suck it up; pack your bags and head to Las Vegas or Atlantic City.
What Does the Future Hold for Poker Legalization in Alabama?
Other poker portals (much smarter than I) suggest we might see changes in Alabama by 2018-2019.
I’m not so sure.
The only way I can see such a headstrong, anti-gambling state change their mind is if more states legalized online gambling and made so much in tax revenue that Alabama got jealous/greedy.
But it’s been 2 years since we saw the first state legalize online poker. And around 14-16 months since the last.
Alabama hasn’t so much as stirred.
Who knows what it will take, if anything, for them to hop on the wagon.
As of now I would suggest you don’t hold your breath.