North Dakota Legal Poker Laws

North Dakota Poker Laws
North Dakota Gambling Laws & Legal Poker

Known primarily for its natural beauty and frontier landscape, North Dakota is home to quite a few online poker players.  That popularity results from one key feature online poker offers to players in North Dakota: access. 
Hopping online to play real-money poker is a cinch, and if you've gotten stuck in the process because of some unanswered questions or a general uncertainty about how and where to play, you'll find all the answers you need in this North Dakota Online Poker Player's Guide.

Playing Online Poker in North Dakota

North Dakota's Best Online Poker Options

You're in North Dakota.  You want to play some online poker.  Googling "online poker North Dakota" just brings up a bunch of out-of-date sites listing rooms that don't even take players from the US, let alone poker players from North Dakota. 
No worries.  Our list of the best sites for North Dakota online poker is current, accurate, and based on the first-hand experience of real online poker players.  Here's where you should play poker in North Dakota:

Playing Real-Money Poker Online From North Dakota

No problems here.  North Dakotans are welcome at all of the sites on our list above (which are the poker sites we suggest to players from North Dakota) along with dozens of other sites.  You may hear of poker players from Kentucky or Maryland running into trouble when trying to create an online poker account, but none of those difficulties exist for poker players from North Dakota who want to play real-money games online.

North Dakota Gambling & Poker Law

Before we continue with this section, a few things should be said.  The first is that there is a lot of misinformation about state gambling law on the Internet.  The second is that gambling law itself (including North Dakota gambling law) tends to be vague and difficult to understand, meaning that you should only rely on lawyers with experience in the area for definitive answers about what is legal and what is not legal.

We know that reading state law can be tough going, so we've extracted some of the most important parts of North Dakota law and listed them below.

  1. Let's start with how North Dakota determines what qualifies as gambling and what does not.  The definition of gambling is found in Section 12.1-28-01(1): "risking any money, credit, deposit, or other thing of value for gain, contingent, wholly or partially, upon lot, chance, the operation of gambling apparatus, or the happening or outcome of an event, including an election or sporting event, over which the person taking the risk has no control."
  2. That's one of the broadest definitions of gambling that you'll find in any state law.  The definition of "gambling apparatus" adds even more reach: "any device, machine, paraphernalia, or equipment that is used or usable in the playing phases of any gambling activity, whether that activity consists of gambling between persons, or gambling by a person involving the playing of a machine" (Section 12.1-28-01(2)).
  3. So what constitutes a gambling crime in North Dakota?  From a player perspective, it depends on how much money is involved in the activity.  The key phrase in North Dakota law is "hand, game or event."  As certain thresholds are passed, the charges become more severe.  For example, if the total involved in the "hand, game or event" is under $25, there's no charge.  From $25 to $500, you're looking at an infraction. Over $500 and it's a class A misdemeanor (Section 12.1-28-02(2)). 
  4. The toughest charges are aimed at the people behind the operation of illegal gambling activity.  Those who run the games, profit from the games or have an ownership interest in the games can face a felony charge in North Dakota.
  5. To introduce new forms of regulated gambling requires an amendment to the North Dakota constitution.

The above is only a starting point and not a substitute for legal advice.  To learn more, click this link [1] and you'll be taken to an online version of the North Dakota statutes.

Chances of North Dakota Regulating Online Poker

The state of North Dakota has simply not been a part of the national conversation regarding online poker regulation.  There's no unique reason to believe that North Dakota would sit out a national wave of regulation, but if the process goes state-by-state (as many now expect), North Dakota is not expected to be out in front of the crowd on the issue. 
In short:  Regulated online gambling may come to the state eventually, but it will take events outside of the state to accelerate the process.

Overview of Gambling in North Dakota

What Regulated Gambling Choices Do I Have in North Dakota?

A fair amount.  There are no longer racetracks in the state, but pari-mutuel wagering on simulcast races remains legal.  There are no commercial casinos, but the tribal gaming outlets provide casino-style gambling - including poker, slots and other table games - in North Dakota.  Charitable gambling and lottery round out the regulated gambling options on offer in the state.

Do I Have any State-Regulated Online Gambling Choices in North Dakota?

As of this article, the state of North Dakota does not directly regulate or license any online gambling operators.  This does not mean all forms of online gambling are illegal in North Dakota; an activity can comport with gambling law in the state even if it's not regulated.  All it means is that the state simply has yet to get into the business of overseeing any type of online gambling.

North Dakota Gambling News

Horse racing appears to be making something of a comeback in North Dakota, aided by the state's embrace of betting online and over the phone.  Meanwhile, charitable gambling in the state has suffered a string of recent setbacks, including the closure of this Fargo union hall that served as a local hub for charitable gambling activity.

Useful Sites for North Dakota Gambling Research

North Dakota Attorney General: Gaming Division [2].  All charitable gambling activity in the state is overseen by the Gaming Division of the North Dakota AG.

North Dakota Department of Human Services [3].  24-hour hotline and a host of related resources on the topic of problem gambling.

Institute for the Study of Tribal Gaming Law and Policy [4].  Research center at the University of North Dakota that serves as a clearinghouse for information and academic inquiry into tribal gambling in the state.

Poker Culture, History and North Dakota

For a state small in size, North Dakota has managed to play a pretty substantial role in the history of poker.  One North Dakota native stands above the rest, at least when it comes to lifetime earnings: Greg Raymer, best remembered for his triumph in the 2004 Main Event of the World Series of Poker.  Raymer also made major poker headlines in 2012 when he strung together an impressive four wins out of six Heartland Poker Tour events over a span of just 100 days - a feat with little precedent in the poker world.

Sources & Citations For This Article on North Dakota Online Poker