Indiana Legal Poker Laws

Indiana Gambling / Poker Laws
Indiana Legal Gambling and Poker Laws

The Hoosier state has long been a poker hotspot thanks to the multiple casinos scattered within Indiana's borders.  Online poker has also proven to be quite the draw for Hoosiers, with native sons and daughters posting big wins and building big names at major online poker sites. 

If you're hoping to take your place among them, this guide to playing online poker from Indiana is the perfect starting point, covering Indiana law regarding online poker, prospects for regulation and a general analysis of the state's approach to gambling.

Online Poker Guide for Indiana

Choosing the Best Legal Online Poker Sites for Indiana

Playing online poker at a legally regulated site is important - it provides you with protection and some recourse if a problem occurs.  That's why we only suggest sites for Indiana poker players that are fully regulated and legal.  We also consider factors like bonus size, VIP programs, average opponent weakness and dozens more when building our list of the best legal online poker rooms for players from Indiana.

Can You Play Poker Online From Indiana?

Creating an online poker account and playing for real money is a snap for players in Indiana.  All of the major real-money sites take players from the state, meaning you'll have your pick among the top choices available to US poker players.  That's well over two dozen rooms, so you might want to use our list of the legal Indiana poker sites for real money to narrow your search.

Is Online Poker Legal in Indiana?

Whenever gambling comes into contact with the law, you're likely going to run into areas of ambiguity that demand interpretation.  Providing you with a definitive answer to the question of whether or not it is absolutely legal or illegal to play poker online is beyond the scope of this guide - in fact, it is a job reserved exclusively for legal professionals.
What we can do, however, is extract the parts of Indiana law that are potentially relevant to online poker.  Here are aspects of the law that all poker players should be familiar with; also, we encourage you to review the complete text of Indiana law [1].

  1. The definition of gambling under Indiana law is so broad as to likely include poker.  As defined in Section 35-45-5-1, gambling involves any bet made on anything involving an element of chance.  It also includes the use of any "gambling device," further widening the scope of the definition.
  2. Indiana law does directly handle the issue of online gambling, but only from an operator perspective.  Section 35-45-5-3 makes it a crime (a felony) to operate almost any type of online casino, poker room or sports book and also criminalizes the processing of payments related to such activity.  Players do not appear to face additional legal risk from this section.
  3. "Unlawful gambling" (Section 35-45-5-2) is a class B misdemeanor in Indiana.   The crime is defined as when someone "knowingly or intentionally engages in gambling" that isn't explicitly regulated by the state.
  4. Much stiffer penalties are in store for individuals who are involved in the operation of an illegal gambling business.  The crime of "professional gambling" doesn't refer to gambling for a living; rather, it refers to people in the business of operating illegal gambling.  Doing so is a class D felony in the state of Indiana.

Is Indiana Going to Regulate Online Poker?

Indiana takes internally contradicting views toward gambling.  On one hand, the state is home to one of the largest regulated gambling industries in the world.  On the other hand, the social attitudes of Indiana are generally conservative, suggesting that an online poker bill would face stiff opposition at most levels of the state.

The biggest hurdle that faces regulated online poker in Indiana, however, is the lack of a bill for supporters to coalesce behind.  Without that bill, poker players from Indiana will be forced to use sites regulated and licensed by international jurisdictions, which simply isn't as effective as local regulation by the state.

Indiana Gambling Facts

History of Indiana Gambling

Much of Indiana's gambling history has been written over the last few decades.  Almost all of the current regulated gambling options that are available in the state are less than 25 years old. 

Of course, unregulated gambling has long been a part of the state, especially in the western areas bordering Chicago.  Interestingly enough, the modern surge of regulated gambling in Indiana is actually a story the state has seen before, as much of Indiana was filled with gambling either tolerated or directly endorsed by the government in the early 1900s.  

Indiana's Regulated Gambling Choices

In today's Indiana, gamblers can choose between every major regulated gambling choice except for tribal gambling.  There's lottery, pari-mutuel, commercial casinos and charitable gambling.  Poker is available at Indiana casinos.

Indiana's Regulated Online Gambling Choices

As of now, Indiana does not regulate any online gambling options.  While it seems likely that Indiana will embrace online gambling at some point and provide state-regulated poker rooms and casinos online, that scenario remains a pure hypothetical for now.

Recent Indiana Gambling News

Most of the gambling-related news coming out of Indiana has to do with the struggles of the state's casinos to generate desired revenue and profits.  As this article notes [2], all of the casinos in the northwest corner of Indiana saw revenues drop this year, a worrying trend for the industry. 

Indiana Gambling Research Aides

Gaming Law Masters Indiana Guide [3].  For those seeking a more in-depth analysis of Indiana law regarding gambling, this white paper from the Gaming Law Masters provides a breakdown of the statute and further reading like case law, AG opinions and more.

Indiana Gaming Commission [4].  Responsible for handling regulated casino gambling in the state, you'll also find regulation information regarding charitable gambling in Indiana.  If you have a question about how the state approaches gambling, the IGC site is a good place to start your search for answers.

Indiana Council on Problem Gambling [5].  A hub for responsible gambling information provided by a non-profit alliance.  Excellent resources for individual players and those interested in the critical topic of controlling problem gambling.

Poker History and Indiana

The state has been a hotbed for online poker talent thanks largely to its roster of colleges and universities, but Indiana's primary role in the development of poker has come over the last decade or so, with the state serving as host to some of the largest regional tournament events in the nation.  Spread across several casinos, Indiana sees annual stops from the World Series of Poker, the WPT and the Heartland Poker Tour. 

Sources & Citations For This Article on Indiana Online Poker