These first couple paragraphs I summarize why poker is perceived as ‘unsafe’. Below, starting in the third paragraph, are my safe recommendations (10+ years in this wild trade). In July 2010, HR2267 was introduced and since then many other bills to regulate poker by Federal U.S. government were popularized. None have passed the Feds yet but state governments New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada so far, have penned poker legal online. When a Federal bill eventually passes the full House, Senate, and signed into law by the President, fully legal online poker, licensed and regulated in the US, will be right around the corner and not simply by a few states on a state-by-state basis.
Perhaps in the near future we might have Google Poker, Facebook Poker, Wal-Mart Poker for money, etc. Also, we’ll almost certainly see big name existing sites who never operated in the US such as Betfair, Ladbrokes, and Everest Poker open their virtual doors for the first time to the US, each branding one of their first issued US online gambling licenses. In the meantime, the options for US players are limited to sites operating in small countries or Indian reserves not subject to heavy regulation or independent auditing.
Top 3 Safest Online Poker Sites for US Players
#1. IgnitionPoker.eu (previously known as Bovada/Bodog) – Ignition Casino/Poker is operated by Morris Mohawk, which essentially was built by Bodog. The company was owned by a large Canadian bookie, but he sold it to a larger operation – Morris Mohaw. I don’t ever see this site stiffing a player for reasons beyond the norm (fraud). Knowing how the new owner conducts business also gives me more confidence in referring you to this site. Withdraws are usually the fastest in the industry taking 2-10 days depending on the method.
#2. Betonline.ag – Since BetOnline operates out of Panama they can legally accept players from all over the United States (accepts all 50 states unlike Ignition Poker). Because of US law, the owner tends to remain anonymous but players always get paid here. They are one of the most trusted US poker sites on the internet today.
#3 PokerStars.com – (Does not accept the US) There are a plethora of reasons why we consider PokerStars the absolute safest poker site, BUT THEY DON’T ACCEPT THE USA (other than New Jersey)! They were servicing US players since 2001 and are the world’s largest online poker site by a near 4-to-1 margin. On top of this, PokerStars is heavily regulated and has a dominating live presence in nearly every country around the world. They are licensed and regulated by the Isle of Man, a British Crown dependency.
PokerStars is perhaps the most legally accessible of all online poker sites because of their dominate presence in major countries whom license them. They are also the owner of several live poker tours including the European Poker Tour (EPT), Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT), Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT), Australia New Zealand Poker Tour (ANZPT), UK & Ireland Poker Tour (UKIPT), Italian Poker Tour (IPT) and the North American Poker Tour (NAPT). We recommend this site if you are not in the United States.
Who to Avoid?
Oh god, there are so many. The problem we have right now is affiliates of these poker rooms are being bribed to place the site on the top of their list. One online cardroom that bribed their affiliates was LockPoker. They used to be a good room, in fact, Jennifer Larson the owner was a good person, or so it seemed. They were running an endless payout scheme (110% true Ponzi Scheme) where they accepted deposits but didn’t make payouts. This finally ended when they went offline on April 17, 2015. Many reports showed it was taking over 1 year for payouts with a backlog in the multi-millions according to research from poker forum posters at 2+2! The massive information sites out there that you find when using google with “top lists” searches are usually just sites who pays the best.
Currently, other poker sites to avoid are Carbon Poker, Sportsbook.ag and Players Only which are on the Merge Gaming Network. Withdrawal times are taking 10-14 weeks for checks, 2+ months for wire transfers, and 11-21 days for bitcoin. Another site we definitely didn’t recommend playing at was Full Flush Poker, they went offline on October 1, 2016. Players had requested checks and bank wires for over a year that they never received before they closed their doors.
Are US Poker Sites Safe to Play at?
If you’re wondering “are US poker sites safe to play at?”, the answer to that question is “yes” for US state licensed sites, and “some” for licensed offshore sites. The top two we mentioned above are the safest and most trusted poker sites on the internet today.
For example, some of the more popular US poker sites such as Lock Poker was, are for all intents and purposes were a little too closely associated with the gambling commission that regulated them; a major conflict of interest. Take another example, the once Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet. Each of these companies were owned by Tokwiro Enterprises, which is a private company solely owned by Joseph Tokwiro Norton and headquartered in Kahnawake Mohawk Territory. This territory is a small (48.05 square kilometers) sovereign Indian reservation on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec with a population of about 8,000. The gambling commission which regulated these two sites was also in the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory and called the Kahnawake Gaming Commission (ehh, what?).
The real conflict was that Joe Norton, the sole man who was behind Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker, was the highest ranking government official in this small 8,000 population reservation from 1980-2004, serving as the Grand Chief. Not surprisingly, they’re from a major group of poker companies to owing people millions – only to shut down and disappear leaving everyone empty handed.
While many poker sites operating under licenses issued by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission are likely safe and have great reputations, personally we don’t have faith in this gambling commission so we can’t include any of these sites on our list of “safest US poker sites”. So, which ones can we include? We covered the top two US sites above, and the one we recommend for international player.
Author: Savanah Lavinder
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